Call for stronger focus on innovation and emerging tech in Federal Budget

ICT, delivering beyond innovation

The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) is calling for a stronger focus on Australian innovation and emerging technologies in the upcoming Federal Budget.

In its Federal Government Pre-Budget and Pre-Election Policy Submission 2022, the AIIA stated that after two years of the COVID-19 pandemic shuttering the inroads made towards the strong development and investment in ICT, Australia is at a crossroads in innovation and technology advancement.

“The nation has an opportunity to embrace digital technologies and to support a truly digital economy, or otherwise – risk squandering existing progress and being overtaken by other economies,” the statement read.

According to the Global Innovation Index, Australia ranks 25th in the world for development, innovation and advancement despite being the 13th largest economy globally. The AIIA noted that this is evidence that there is still a significant amount of work to be done to harness Australian economic possibilities and the Government’s stated goal to be a leading digital economy by 2030.

Australia is also seeing a significant labour gap of 60,000 ICT workers annually, related to supply and demand post-pandemic. AIIA pointed out that building a capable workforce is vital to achieving economic prosperity, and with international borders reopening, a renewed focus on ICT skills is vital for the country to create 1.1 million ICT jobs in by 2026.

The AIIA also reiterated its support for the development of skills, beginning in schools through to upskilling our existing workforce as a priority for the country’s ICT development.

The AIIA’s Federal Government Pre-Budget and Pre-Election Policy Submission 2022 listed 24 key recommendations that ensure Australia meets Federal Government objectives to become part of the top-three global digital governments by 2025. Whilst the 2021 budget included strong investment in ICT, including $124 million in AI funding, the Government still held the majority of this funding and failed to quickly transition to execution within the sector.

“This is a time for our political leaders to show that they truly understand the benefits that can be derived from a commitment to and support for Australia’s ICT sector,” AIIA CEO Ron Gauci said. “The growth in ICT is unlimited. It delivers jobs, economic growth, global competitiveness and it protects Australia’s core industries. Our geographic location is no restriction on our growth potential.

“Australia has the opportunity to be a globally leading digital economy, but this is the time for the government to act and support the sector through significant policy initiatives,” Gauci added. “Given the global trends and how rapidly we are falling behind, this must be the year our Federal Government shows its full support for the ICT sector to achieve the economic benefits on offer. Our industry is full of organisations with the appetite and commercial experience to respond if it can see tangible support from Government.”