Govt to launch ‘Digital Economy Strategy’

Consultation open until November

The government will release a Digital Economy Strategy early next year “to seize the benefits of digital transformation and secure Australian jobs into the future”.

The strategy will cover digital infrastructure, digital business capability, and building digital skills and inclusion, the government announced today.

A consultation paper was published this morning in a bid to attract views from industry, thought-leaders, SMEs, government and citizens.

“Australia already has areas of competitive strength, such as energy resources, and medical and mining related technologies. I believe we can also become a world leader in digital innovation which could boost the Australian economy by $140 billion to $250 billion over the next eight years,” Senator Arthur Sinodinos, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science said.

“[It is] a forward-looking plan to maximise the potential of digital technology to improve the nation’s productivity and competitiveness, while minimising its negative effects,” he added.

The paper defines ‘digital economy’ as “the range of economic and social activities that are enabled by information and communications technologies”, which includes “banking, buying and selling, and accessing education or entertainment using the internet and connected devices”.

The document explains that the digital economy is not separate to the economy and impacts all industries and business types.

“It also recognises that as sectors become data driven their economic structures change, industry boundaries blur, and the basis of competition changes,” the paper states.

Australia is ranked 18th on the World Economic Forum’s Network Readiness Index, down two places from the previous year. The index measures the capacity of countries to leverage technology to improve competitiveness and wellbeing. Concerning business use of technology, Australia ranked 24th in the WEF rankings.

“We risk slipping behind the rest of the world in digital readiness, especially in growing digital businesses,” the paper adds.

The consultation welcomes views on a number of emerging technologies, namely 5G, artificial intelligence, blockchain and quantum computing.

The strategy sits separately to the government’s $1.1 billion ‘National Innovation and Science Agenda’ which was launched in December 2015.

The government has since been criticised for dumping its innovation drive and ‘ideas boom’ plans, despite following through on a number of initiatives.

The then Labor government released a National Digital Economy Strategy in 2011 which set the goal of Australia becoming “a leading digital economy” by 2020.

An update, with the same goal, was launched in 2013.

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Tags strategyfederal governmentdigital economyagendaInnovation and ScienceArthur SinodinosMinister for Industry

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