Budget 2020: Everything within Canberra's AU$796.5 million Digital Business Plan

The federal government teased Australia with its digital package, here's everything it contains.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The federal government had already promised AU$796.5 million over four years from 2020-21 through its Digital Business Plan to further drive progress towards Australia becoming a leading digital economy by 2030.

In its Budget 2020-21, the government detailed the plan that's aimed at improving productivity, income growth, and jobs by supporting the adoption of digital technologies by Australian businesses.

"There is no economic recovery without a jobs recovery," Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said in delivering his Budget speech on Tuesday night. "There is no budget recovery without a jobs recovery.

"This Budget is all about jobs."

The measures under the JobMaker Plan -- Digital Business Plan label cover: Modern digital infrastructure, reduced regulatory barriers, small and medium enterprise (SME) support and capability, and a digital government that is easier to do business with.

The near-AU$800 million will be shared over four years by 16 government departments, with Services Australia receiving the most -- AU$51.6 million -- in the first year. The Australian Taxation Office will see AU$44.7 million in 2020-21; and the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), and the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) will all receive around AU$25 million in 2020-21.

As detailed in the Budget papers [PDF], measures under the Digital Business Plan to support modern digital infrastructure include: AU$22.1 million over three years from 2020-21 to establish the Australian 5G Innovation Initiative to support private sector investment in 5G testbeds and trials; as well as AU$7.2 million over two years from 2020-21 to support the accelerated deployment of 5G infrastructure by improving the allocation and management of spectrum.

Measures to reduce regulatory barriers include: AU$28.6 million in the first year to continue the implementation of the Consumer Data Right (CDR) and commence work on its rollout in the energy sector, which is under the care of the ACCC. This also includes the AU$19.2 million announced in the government's mid-year update.

See also: Australia's Consumer Data Right: Here's everything you need to know

There's also the AU$11.4 million over four years that will be used to deliver a Regtech Commercialisation Initiative that government has touted will streamline government administration and simplify regulatory compliance through the Business Research and Innovation Initiative.

Still under reducing red tape, the Budget has allocated AU$9.6 million over four years to enhance support for Australian fintech startups in their efforts towards getting a foothold in international markets. That money will also be used to encourage foreign investment and job creation in Australia, the Australian government wrote in the Budget paper.

As already announced, AU$6.9 million over two years from 2020-21 has been earmarked to support industry-led pilots to demonstrate the application of blockchain technology to reduce regulatory compliance costs and encourage broader take-up of blockchain by Australian businesses.

Meanwhile, AU$6 million over three years from 2020-21 has been allocated towards strengthening Australia's role in international standard-setting and supporting businesses to apply these standards. That money will also see public consultation be undertaken to make permanent changes in the Corporations Act 2001 to allow companies to call and conduct meetings electronically.

See also: Sweeping change: Fintech committee offers 'quick wins' fix to Australian ecosystem

Measures to support and build SME digital capability include AU$19.2 million over the next year to expand the Australian Small Business Advisory Services Digital Solutions program to an additional 10,000 small businesses.

AU$3 million over four years has also been pencilled in to develop a Digital Readiness Assessment tool to help businesses self-assess their digital maturity as well as support leaders of Australian organisations to improve their digital literacy and decision-making; and AU$2.5 million will be allocated in 2020-21 to support an industry-led Digital Skills Finder Platform to help SMEs find digital skills training courses for reskilling and upskilling in digital literacy.

The Australian government will also provide an additional $28.3 million over four years from 2020-21 to extend the Be Connected Program until 2023-24, which supports Australians aged over 50 to gain the skills they need to participate in the digital economy.  

Building on its long-promised plan to be a leading digital government, this years' Budget includes AU$420 million over four years to transfer existing business registers to modernised platform to allow the creation of a single, accessible and trusted source of business data -- funding for this, however, has already been allocated.

AU$256.6 million over two years has been earmarked to continue development and expansion of digital identity to improve access to government services and payments online.

"This funding would enable completion of biometric verification and the integration of myGov, onboard additional services to support businesses and individuals to access more Commonwealth government services on-line, and trial use of digital identity with the states and develop legislation to enable use of digital identity to be expanded to other levels of government and the private sector," the papers note.

See also: Australia's digital ID biometric capability to move into public testing mid-2020

Also under the initiative is AU$3.6 million over two years to facilitate the adoption of e-invoicing across all levels of government and AU$500,000 in 2020-21, to be met from within existing resources of the Department of the Treasury, for a review of the governance and regulation of Australia's domestic payments system.

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