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AIIA warns a full-scale national strategy is needed for digital economy

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Australia’s peak body for the innovation technology sector, the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), today released its White Paper “Growing Globally Competitive Industries: Powered by Australia’s innovation technology”, challenging the country’s most influential decision-makers to seize the opportunity for significant economic growth so the country can achieve a full digital economy by 2030.

Australia has the opportunity to be well-positioned for its priority industries to become globally competitive exporters by leveraging the innovation assets that the technology industry has to offer.

Through almost 80 detailed recommendations, the AIIA is urging the Federal Government to accelerate the digitisation of the Australian industry or run the real risk of going from producers to consumers in some of our key industry sectors. Failing to do so will also result in Australia not meeting The Prime Minister’s 2030 targets to become a leading digital economy.

Australia must invest in its core and strategic industries to remain competitive. Within the report, AIIA highlights the key industries requiring an innovative technology makeover:

  • Health: The World Index of Healthcare Innovation still ranks Australia as 26th out of 31 countries. This is clearly visible in the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in Australia.
  • Manufacturing: Australia is failing to harness the power of the fifth industrial revolution as is clearly seen in the Federal Government’s Modern Manufacturing Strategy (MMS) as it is currently lacking representation.
  • Agriculture: Agriculture Technology (AgTech) is set to become Australia’s next $100 billion industry by 2030, yet only low-level investment in this area is reflected in the
  • 2021- 2022 Federal Budget and is almost completely missing from the Agriculture Strategy 2030. Digital government: 22% of Australians say they need to go to more than one source to get the information they need from the Australian Government, currently there are 64 million pages of content across gov.au across all levels.
  • Australia is well behind globally on developing a $300+ Bill AI industry by not investing in the commercialisation of its burgeoning startup community.

Additionally, the AIIA has delved into critical cross-industry ‘horizontals’, which are booming globally including, Quantum, digital engineering, industry incentives and cyber security. We need leadership in each of these areas and it is a poor indictment that Australia doesn’t have a national Quantum strategy.

AIIA CEO, Mr Ron Gauci said: “Australia’s ability to innovate and support innovation of digital technologies will determine our economic future. If we are to remain a nation of producers and not simply consumers, now is the time to act and support our innovative technologies. The traditional strengths of Australia – our agricultural, manufacturing, and health – need to be supported by strong government measures to stand up against international counterparts. We can become a strong economy or suffer the longer-term consequences of not keeping pace with the advancements being made globally by economies that were once smaller than ours.

“There is a lack of strategy, policy and leadership to propel Australia’s ICT sector forward, resulting in the country being a laggard. We need uniform standards that will support industry and foster innovation.

“The importance of retaining our IP and skills within the country can’t be overstated. The Federal government’s adoption of the patent box is an example of a good policy that will benefit Australia, now we have an opportunity to expand the patent box to all sectors of strategic importance,” Mr Gauci continued.

This White Paper follows the 2020 White Paper, ‘Building Australia’s Digital Future in a Post-COVID World’, which was produced just months into the pandemic as the AIIA saw a drastic need for governments to respond to the societal and economic challenges facing Australia. Since releasing that paper, governments have adopted a range of recommendations including:

  • Recognising that digitising the economy is critical to our national success
  • Increasing the R&D tax incentive and introducing a patent box
  • Appointing a Minister for the Digital Economy
  • Funding a National Freight Hub
  • Investment in digital skills
  • Investing in cyber security resilience

The AIIA is a not-for-profit organisation aimed at fuelling Australia’s future social and economic prosperity through technology innovation and remains committed to working with all levels of Government to secure Australia’s digital future.

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