3 things the Tech Council likes about the 2023 federal budget

- May 9, 2023 3 MIN READ
Kate Pounder
Tech Council of Australia CEO Kate Pounder
The Tech Council of Australia (TCA) has welcomed federal budget announcements backing skilled migration, cybersecurity and a new commercialisation fund. 

TCA CEO Kate Pounder said the measures by Treasurer Jim Chalmers aligned with the priorities in the Council’s pre-budget submission.

“The Budget takes important steps to address the big challenges facing our country, including skills shortages, growing new industries and jobs, and strengthening cyber security,” she said.

Having pulled nearly $200 million from the Entrepreneurs Program in his budget late last year, then shutting down the former government’s Accelerating Commercialisation grant program today, that funding reappeared as the $392 million Industry Growth Program, announced tonight, which is being set up as an early-stage grants program to support companies for later investment from the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund.

“Australia has global strengths in critical technology areas like quantum, AI and robotics, and the measures announced in the Budget will support our tech companies to commercialise and scale globally,” Pounder said.

“The creation of the new Industry Growth Program will help spark early-stage commercialisation in strategic industries and grow Australian startups. We welcome the adoption of an end-to-end approach that connects the pipeline of projects from this program to the National Reconstruction Fund.

Having released Australia’ first National Quantum Strategy last week, the government is now keen to get the broader business community on board offering an additional $101 million over the next five years for companies to integrate quantum and AI technologies into their operations.

“The Government’s investments in quantum and AI, including the new national challenge program for quantum computing and the $3.4 billion Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator in the defence portfolio, are important initial steps towards achieving the vision set out in the recently released National Quantum Strategy,” Pounder said.

With the Albanese government onboard with the TCA’s goal of the nation having 1.2 million tech workers by 2030, the Tech Council boss welcomed the additional funding for visa processing, nearly $28 million over two years to upgrade existing visa ICT systems, and delivering on an election promise to increase the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) from $53,900 to $70,000 from July 1.

“Australian businesses from all parts of the economy continue to struggle with finding experienced tech workers in technical roles like software engineering and cyber security,” Pounder said.

“That is why we strongly support the plan for migration reform laid out by Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil last month.”

“Visa processing times are a real pain point that makes Australia less competitive than countries like Israel and Canada, which is why we are thrilled to see continued investment by the Government in this area.

“While domestic training and reskilling remain the most important pathways for workers to enter the tech sector, migration is critical to fill gaps in technical, experienced roles and to train Australian talent.”

Pounder said the TCA is behind the government’s goal to make Australia the most cyber secure nation in the world.

“We strongly support the investment in expanding the digital identity system across the economy, which is one of the most important actions the Government can take to protect Australians’ data,” she said.

“The establishment of the new Coordinator and National Office for Cyber Security is an important reform which has the potential to significantly improve the way we respond to major cyber incidents and review lessons learned.”

“We also welcome the additional investments in tackling SMS scams and bolstering the resources of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner to improve compliance with privacy laws across the economy.”

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