Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced the federal government has set aside nearly A$800 million (US$575 million) to invest in digital technologies as part of its coronavirus recovery plan.

  • Morrison announced the news Tuesday, saying the funding is aimed to help the country's businesses recover from the economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as create more jobs.
  • While Australia hasn't been hit as badly as nations like the U.S. and India by the virus, it has still seen around 27,000 cases and nearly 900 deaths in total, according to its official figures.
  • After seeing growth for a record 30 years, the coronavirus has now tipped the country into a recession as lockdowns sent spending spiraling.
  • The US$575 million investment, to be concreted in the 2020 budget, is part of Morrison's plan to bounce back from the pandemic.
  • In the announcement, he sets out that varying amounts will be spent on different prongs of the plan, including:
  • $256.6 million on a digital identity solution that will make it easier and more secure to interact with government services (and later, the private sector).
  • $419.9 million to fully implement the Modernizing Business Registers (MBR) program.
  • $22.2 million will go to help small businesses utilize digital technologies through tools and training made available under the Australian Small Business Advisory Service.
  • Blockchain technology gets a specific mention with a $6.9 million initiative that will see two pilots aimed to cut business compliance costs.
  • Other prongs include the accelerated rollout of 5G and industry trials of the technology, a "regulatory technology commercialization initiative" to improve compliance and support digital technology companies, and an effort to mandate the adoption of electronic invoicing by July 1, 2022, for government agencies.
  • “The Plan supports Australia’s economic recovery by removing out-dated regulatory barriers, boosting the capability of small businesses and backs the uptake of technology across the economy,” the prime minister said in the announcement.

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