Government Unveils $800 Million Digital Business Package

Government Unveils $800 Million Digital Business Package
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The Federal Government of Australia has unveiled a new $800 million Digital Business Package designed to help businesses move online and provide security for consumers purchasing goods online. 

The government says the Digital Business Package package is aiming to accelerate the adoption of technology and digital sales for Australian businesses, as well as the expansion of its digital identity system and the introduction of a streamlined online business registry. 

The government’s opt-in digital identity system currently allows users to access around 70 government services without the need for individual verification, and says that 1.6 million individuals and 1.16 million businesses have already opted in. The government is hoping to increase the number of users on the service to provide individual and business users quicker access to vital services and support. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has told reporters that the digital package is essential for the prosperity of Australian businesses because “we need our businesses to be online, we need them to be digital businesses.” 

“In recent months, we have seen through COVID a rapid acceleration produced by necessity of businesses really engaging and upgrading their digital capability. What we’re announcing today, will build on that. It will strengthen it and it will accelerate it,” he said. 

“Many businesses moved online quickly when the pandemic hit, undergoing a decade of change in months, finding new customers or new ways of doing things,” Morrison added. “Our JobMaker Digital Business Plan provides significant backing to continue that digital push and expand opportunities for businesses to grow and create more jobs,” the PM stated. 

Included in the plan is:

  • $256.5 million to develop a Digital Identity system to enable more secure convenient engagement with government and potentially private sector transactions in the future. 
  • $419.9 million for the implementation of the Modernising Business Registers (MBR) program
  • $28.5 million for the rollout of the Consumer Data Right in the energy and financial sector; $120 has already been committed by the government
  • $29.2 million for the acceleration of a 5G network rollout 
  • $22.2 million for the expansion of the Australian Small Businesses Advisory Service
  • $11.4 for new regulatory measures to provide support to businesses 
  • $9.6 million for financial-technology companies to attract investment 
  • $6.9 million of research and development for two blockchain programs
  • $5.9 million to increase Australia’s influence over international standards 
  • $3.6 million to encourage electronic invoicing by the 1st July, 2022. 
  • $2.5 million in digital skills training for small and medium-sized enterprises   

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg added that “the Government’s Digital Business plan is targeted at building on this digital transformation of Australian businesses to drive productivity and income growth and create jobs.” 

“Our Digital Infrastructure package is estimated to increase Australia’s GDP by $6.4 billion a year by 2024, and around $1.5 billion of this additional economic activity is estimated to flow to regional Australia each year.” 

The government has also said it will shorten the length of time small and medium-sized enterprises get paid by implementing e-invoicing by the 1st of July, 2022. Treasurer Frydenberg has said that 90% of small and medium businesses today still use paper-based invoices, and if you take the Commonwealth together with the states, governments are responsible for 10% of all business invoices.” 

“It is hoped that the Commonwealth by taking the lead in e-invoicing will lead to states to follow in the Commonwealth’s lead in this respect,” he said. “We should see all digital transformation as an opportunity, not as a threat… we want new businesses in Australia to be born digital,” Frydenberg concluded. 

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