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Australia’s Digital Economy Seen As Priority For Upcoming Budget

The Business Council wants measures in the budget to accelerate the transition to the digital economy to bolster job creation.

BRISBANE, Australia — New analysis shows Australia could be AUD 210 billion ($163 billion) better off over the next 20 years if the shift to a digital economy is accelerated.

The report, completed by consultants Ernst & Young for the Business Council of Australia, says with the right approach, Australia can fulfill its ambition to be a digital leader by 2030.

“People want easier, more convenient ways of doing business, so becoming a leading digital economy is win-win,” said Tim Reed, president, Business Council of Australia. “It makes everyday life easier for consumers, and it creates new jobs.”

He said the slow drift away from cash and paper before Covid-19 became a stampede during the pandemic, and he wants to build on that momentum.

In a speech on April 29, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg made the digital economy one of his priorities for his May 11 budget.

“People want easier, more convenient ways of doing business, so becoming a leading digital economy is win-win,” Business Council president Tim Reed said. (Joel Carrett/AAP Image)

The Business Council wants a dedicated cabinet minister for the digital economy to oversee Australia’s digital transformation.

It wants unnecessary red tape and regulation reduced while lifting the nation’s digital skills and driving investment through tax incentives or grants worth up to AUD 10,000 ($7,764) for small and medium-sized businesses to assist in training, a shift in e-invoicing, and improving cybersecurity.

“We will need the best-skilled workers in the world to take advantage of new jobs in new and developing industries,” said Reed.

In his speech, Frydenberg said measures in the budget would also include skills, infrastructure, tax, energy, and deregulation.

Zip signage is seen on a storefront in Sydney. (Derek Rose/AAP Image)

But he also announced a key fiscal strategy change, saying he wanted to see the jobless rate below five percent before undertaking the budget repair process.

Last year in the depths of the pandemic and after splashing out billions of dollars to protect the economy, the treasurer said the budget repair would not commence until the jobless rate was “comfortably below six percent.”

The unemployment rate has since fallen to 5.6 percent.

“Our focus right now is to get more people into work because if you get more people into work, you actually improve the budget bottom line,” said Frydenberg.

Peak welfare group, Australian Council Of Social Service, welcomed the policy change but said the critical question now was how the government proposed to pursue this goal.

“The federal budget needs to invest in income support, high-priority human services, and key public infrastructure including social housing and energy efficiency programs,” said Cassandra Goldie, chief executive, Australian Council Of Social Service.

“We need to generate new jobs in the community service sector so that we can properly resource important services like aged care and child care.”

(Edited by Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar and Saptak Datta)

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