ATSE responds to the Federal Budget

Federal Budget a starting point but lacks a long-term strategy to safeguard Australia’s economy, society and environment

29 March 2022

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The Government’s election-eve budget presents a vision of a skilled, technology-powered Australia but falls short of making a long-term investment in supporting Australia’s technological ambitions, leaving the nation exposed to workforce shortages and an unpredictable future.

ATSE President Hugh Bradlow said the Federal Budget is a starting point, but lacks a long-term holistic strategy essential to safeguard Australia’s economy, society and environment. 

“We welcome funding for green energy infrastructure and expanding the STEM workforce. However, this budget does not represent a comprehensive and evidence-based investment to decarbonise, or develop the essential foundational skills required for the aspirational technology-forward economy the government has envisaged.”

“As Australia seeks to transform to a net zero emissions economy and evolve traditional industries, applied science is fundamental to actualising the ideas, technologies, systems and processes needed.”

“ATSE welcomes $247.1 million over 5 years for low emissions technologies, and support to farmers for biodiversity activities. However, we are concerned that other energy related announcements are at odds with fast-tracking a net zero future and risks stranded assets.”

“The $12 billion investment in roads is a missed opportunity to fast-track electrification of the transport system and achieve Australia’s emission reduction commitment.”

“The expansion of the Patent Box for agricultural innovation is welcome, as is the extension to green energy,” said Professor Bradlow.

ATSE welcomes the enhanced support for technology infrastructure, including $9.9 billion for cyber security capabilities. These investments will create strong demand for a highly skilled national science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce, and a skills strategy from kindergarten-to-career is urgently needed.

Professor Bradlow said, “By 2023, digital technologies are estimated to contribute $65 billion to our economy and we will need an additional 100,000 digitally skilled workers by 2024. By 2025, we need 40,000 more engineers. This is an immediate need that is not being met by support for teachers, students, and the higher education sector.”

ATSE also reiterates its support for previous announcements including the $750M regional investment in telecommunications to improve wireless connections and the $41.2 million Elevate: Boosting Women in STEM Program which represents the largest single Government investment in gender equity in STEM to date.

Ahead of the federal election, ATSE calls on all parties to articulate a vision for a skilled, thriving, resilient, tech-powered Australia which puts people first.

Note to media – available for interview:

Professor Hugh Bradlow FTSE, President, Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering

Kylie Walker, CEO, Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering

Media contact: Edwyn Shiell, Director, Strategic Communications | 0402 254 968

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