The 2017 Federal Budget impacts on IT recruitment and the rest of Australia’s growing tech industry in many ways. Some changes see the country become better prepared for a digital future, while others have drawn sharp criticism for not living up to past promises and other potential developments. Some of the changes for IT professionals to look forward to include a more open stance in digital currencies like a Bitcoin, an Advanced Manufacturing Fund and a plan to fix broadband and mobile black spots in rural areas.
Overall, the budget paints a picture of a country that understands how important its tech infrastructure will be to its future success. How will Australia’s tech industry change? Businesses across the world are still wrapping their heads around what digital currencies could mean for their respective industries. Powered by blockchain technology, popular options like Bitcoin were a focus of the latest Federal Budget, showing the Australian government is aware of the growing attention fuelling the technology.
The changes relate to the way the currency is taxed. At this stage, it’s considered “intangible property” so people have to pay tax twice to acquire and use Bitcoin. It will soon be treated in the same way as conventional money, which The Guardian reports will slightly decrease GST collections, but hopefully offer a boost to the country’s financial technology industry. The other sector set for expansion is advanced manufacturing, with the government targeting the automotive industry in particular.
Vehicles are advancing rapidly, with hybrid technology, active safety systems and autonomous driving options all in various states of mainstream adoption. With a pledged $101.5 million injection from the Advanced Manufacturing Fund, the government intends to establish laboratories where research projects can take place. Can it bring rural areas together? Treasurer Scott Morrison said on the night of the Federal Budget that servicing rural areas is a key aim of the ongoing NBN roll out.
As trends such as remote working and the ongoing pressure for all businesses to interact with the digital world continue to grow, internet access will only become more critical. “By the end of April 2017, services were already available to over two million of these homes and businesses through fixed line, fixed wireless and satellite infrastructure, and will be available to around 3.6 million remote and regional premises by 2020,” he said.
It’s not just internet access and speed that needs to be improved in the country’s rural areas, but the mobile phone coverage as well. There’s already a Mobile Black Spot Program in operation, and that will continue to repair black spots until 2020, under a new funding round of $60 million. Could there have been greater changes? While the developments listed above mark targeted changes to growing industries – namely financial technology and advanced manufacturing – some communities feel the commitment to innovation isn’t as strong as it could be. A Business Insider article compiled quotes from a number of members of the startup community who feel the budget doesn’t do enough to help businesses operating in that space. Despite these concerns from people in the startup sector, there’s still a positive feel to the announcements and potential developments.
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