Media release

Australia must embrace the full potential of the digital economy

6 May 2021

The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE) welcomes today’s announcement that the Government is allocating $1.2 billion towards developing Australia’s digital economy in next week’s Budget, including support for digital public service delivery, digital skills, and a consumer data right.

Australia needs to harness the full potential of current and emerging technologies, but ATSE emphasises the need for every Australian to be able to participate.

ATSE supports the decision to set aside $500 million to improve the way Australians use the myGov and My Health Record System, but more needs to be done. The latest Digital Inclusion Index suggests more than 2.5 million people remain offline.

ATSE president Professor Hugh Bradlow FTSE said removing barriers to participation in the digital economy should be a priority.

“Geography, age, socio-economic status and education all play a role,” he said.

ATSE also welcomes the announcement that $100 million will be set aside in the Budget for developing digital skills in the workforce, a critical measure for which the Academy has strongly advocated.

ATSE is focussed on this area, having recently partnered with the Computer Science in Schools program to improve digital skills of school children. Without such skills Australia has less opportunity in developing capabilities in areas such as cyber security, another area of expenditure identified in today’s announcement.

“Australia’s future prosperity will rely on the quality and reach of STEM education and ongoing capability development for a diverse, innovative, knowledge-based workforce,” Professor Bradlow said.

“This includes capability in artificial intelligence, and ATSE is pleased to see $124.1 million in Budget initiatives including the establishment of a National AI Centre.

“We must expect to be adept at applying machine learning and artificial intelligence in all areas of the economy,” he said.

Media contact: Liz Foschia  0419 976 903

The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering is a Learned Academy of independent experts helping Australians understand and use technology to solve complex problems.