Victoria to digitise more services, lift gig economy conditions and attract new business

The Victorian government will allocate nearly AU$100 million of its latest Budget to Services Victoria, so it can move more government services online.

In announcing its state Budget 2022-23 on Tuesday, the Victorian government committed an almost AU$115 million package to moving more government services online, reducing paperwork for businesses, and improving the way digital information is used.

Of the total package, nearly AU$100 million will go towards Service Victoria to get more services online, including adding more local council approvals and permits to its platform, and enabling restaurants, bars, and clubs to renew their licences online.

Meanwhile, AU$10 million will be used for the Business Acceleration Fund, formerly known as the Regulatory Reform Incentive Fund, to help streamline regulatory processes across the state's regulators and local councils. This includes replacing paper-based processes and reducing duplicate requests for information to lower the overall regulatory burden on businesses.

The remaining AU$5 million will go towards improving the way digital data is used, including data to guide the Early Intervention Investment Framework, a program designed to support those with chronic health conditions or people experiencing homelessness.

"Everyday tasks like renewing your car rego should be as quick and easy as possible -- and that's exactly what you'll get with the Service Victoria app," Minister for Government Services and Regulatory Reform Danny Pearson said.

"We're cutting red tape and boosting our online services to save time and money for Victorian families and businesses -- because it's good for household budgets and it's good for jobs."

The Budget also outlined that AU$5.6 million will be allocated to improving the conditions for gig economy workers, including planning work for a support service to provide advice on employment status and assist in resolving issues.

The backing follows the state government's inquiry into the on-demand workforce, which uncovered how platforms have been deliberate in framing their arrangements with workers to avoid complying with workplace laws and paying associated costs. 

The Victorian government also announced a AU$65 million package designed to support local businesses, as well as attract new ones to the state.

The package will be divvied up so that AU$40 million will used to give a boost to the International Investment Attraction Fund, a program designed to help attract new business to the state; AU$20 million to back startups under the Equity Investment Attraction Fund, a pilot program to attract and retain high-growth companies by providing funding in return for an equity stake; and AU$5 million to expand the Trade and Investment Office network.

On the education front, AU$17 million will be used to extend the Primary Mathematics and Science Specialists Initiatives to upskill school teachers to become maths and science specialists, alongside an extra $10 million for out-of-field teaching in science, technology, and maths.

Moreover, another AU$2.5 million will be invested over two years into the SummerTech Live program to give up to 400 IT students and graduates placements within Victorian businesses to help solve digital challenges.

The Budget has also set aside more than AU$333 million that will be partially used to help upgrade the Emergency Services Telecommunication Authority's IT and security systems. 

Meanwhile, over in neighbouring New South Wales, the state government has released a blueprint that will inform how it will invest in R&D over the next 20 years.

The roadmap [PDF] outlines there are opportunities to grow capabilities in four key technology sectors: Digital, energy, chemistry, and biotechnology.

It also noted 39 applications where NSW holds a competitive advantage. These include fintech, IoT, robotics, AI, blockchain, cybersecurity, quantum computing, semiconductors, agtech, and medtech.

"R&D is a key driver of new jobs, future businesses and international investment in NSW and will play a crucial role in our economic growth," Minister for Science, Innovation and Technology Alister Henskens said.

"The NSW Government invests close to $400 million in R&D each year and this strategy puts in place a plan to better target funds to fast-track new technology and commercialisation for our people, the economy. and our environment."

To see the roadmap implemented, action plans will be developed and regularly reviewed, the state government said. 

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