The latest Federal Budget has been announced and it includes huge spending on technology and related industries to enhance cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence, digital skills and emerging technologies.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has splashed the cash in a few areas including technology with the goal to offer a modern digital economy that will allow Australia to compete on the world stage and prosper in the world economy.
The Government has pledged $124.1m to fund the improvement of AI which includes setting up a National Artificial Intelligence Centre, supporting Australian businesses to take part in pilot programs to find AI-based solutions to national issues and a graduates program to train and develop Australian AI specialists.
Cybersecurity and connectivity were also on the agenda with $31.1m to secure future connectivity with 5G and 6G mobile networks.
More the $50m will be spent to enhance cyber security in the government, data centres and telecommunication networks.
Digital upskilling will also be incentivised with more than $70m dedicated to the Digital Skills Cadetship Trial, Next Generation Emerging Technology Graduates Program and the expansion of the Cyber Security Skills Partnership Innovation Fund.
Emerging technology like drones were also awarded $36.2m to set a framework for managing the new aviation technologies, how they can be managed and regulated and the development of a National Drone Detection Network.
There are also investment incentives to support business growth including a Digital Games Tax Offset of 30 per cent with the government now classing gaming on the same level as the Australian motion picture industry and offering the same level of support for investment.
Another interesting announcement came with the announcement for changing the way Australian businesses can claim depreciation of intangible assets like intellectual property and in-house software.
More than $200m has also been set aside to enhance the MyGov portal to deliver a simpler and more intuitive experience for Australians.
Grant Petty, CEO of Australian film-tech company BlackMagic Design applauded the Budget’s spend on technology.
“The digital infrastructure funding is an important initiative. I believe that the world is in an intellectual property war and so far, Australia has been badly losing, or not even aware intellectual property exists,” Petty said.
“Strengthening the cyber security technology will be an important step to protecting the hard work of thousands of engineers and artists in Australia.
“I think the Artificial Intelligence Centres is a very good idea and I expect it could revolutionise education in Australia.
“Blackmagic Design is already heavily involved in using AI for image processing in our products and we have experience in this area.
“Back in the 1970’s Dartmouth College developed the BASIC programming language and it became the standard language used on all early 1980’s personal computers.
“Those students went on to change the world and the US dominated personal computing. “These Artificial Intelligence Centres could do the same for Australia.
“It’s hard to know what the future innovations could be, but having this technology available to “play” with is the first step in discovering that future.”
AIIA (Australian Information Industry Association) CEO, Mr Ron Gauci said: “We applaud the Federal Government’s recognition that this transformation is not merely a national one but a global one that is happening.
“The AIIA has been calling out our need to keep pace with the global trend. The investment of $1.2 billion is recognition of the fact that the ICT sector is at the heart of every industry and the Federal Government must continue to invest in this sector to secure our economic independence for years to come.
“We have been advocating for significant investment in health, skills, cybersecurity, digital payments and AI. Tonight’s announcement committing an investment of $124.1 million for AI shows the Federal Government’s continued commitment to ensuring Australia becomes a leading digital economy.”