Australia plans to become a leading digital economy by 2030

$1.6 billion investment includes a new National AI Centre, support for digital skills, and enhanced cyber security

The Australian government is investing almost $1.2 billion AUD (£670 million) in its digital future as part of its strategy to transform the country into a modern and leading digital economy by 2030.

The investment, through its Digital Economy Strategy, includes over $100 million to support digital skills, including a pilot programme for work-based digital cadetships that allow workers to build digital skills, investments in the cyber workforce, and scholarships for emerging technology graduates.

The government is also launching a National Artificial Intelligence Centre through a $124.1 million investment, which will be supported by a network of AI and Digital Capability Centres to drive adoption of AI across the economy.

“This transformation is not merely a national one that needs to happen – it’s a global one that is happening,” said prime minister Scott Morrison. “We must keep our foot on the digital accelerator to secure our economic recovery from COVID-19.”

It also plans to overhaul myGov, a portal citizens can use to access online government services, with a $200 million investment. On top of this, there's a $301.8 million investment into My Health Record, the government’s digital health record system, with a planned expansion of its digital identity system.

The government is also looking to set the standards for the next generation of data management, with a $111.3 million investment to accelerate the rollout of the Consumer Data Right in banking, energy, and telecommunications.

$35.7 million will be spent to support emerging aviation technologies like drones, whereas over $50 million will be used to enhance cyber security in government, data centres, and future telecommunication networks.

The new investment amounts to a spend of roughly 0.06% of Australia’s $2 trillion economy, and will bring spending on the digital economy up to around $2 billion over the 2020-21 and 2021-22 budgets.

This is on top of the $1.67 billion Cyber Security Strategy announced last year, $1 billion for JobTrainer, a scheme that reskills workers who have lost jobs in the pandemic, and a $4.5 billion investment in NBN upgrades, a publicly owned corporation aiming to upgrade the country’s broadband network.

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