Leaders in Australia’s technology and startup sector have welcomed Labor’s federal election victory, celebrating its plan to invest $1 billion in critical technologies, expand the digital workforce and reshape the nation’s climate ambitions.
With nearly 71% of the vote counted on Sunday night, Labor appeared likely to form a slim majority government, having weathered a fall in its own primary vote to best the incumbent Morrison government.
A devastating swing against the Coalition saw it forfeit a number of Western Australian seats to Labor, while collapsing support across Melbourne saw former Liberal Party strongholds fall to ‘teal’ independents.
The success of those independents, along with a strengthened Greens presence in the Lower House, appear poised to deliver one of the most progressive parliaments in a decade — and an opportunity for Labor to turn its technology policy platform into reality.
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Focus on $1 billion Critical Technologies Fund
The Tech Council of Australia — chaired by a who’s who of local tech success stories, including Atlassian co-CEO Scott Farquhar, Afterpay CEO Anthony Eisen, and :Different founder Mina Radhakrishnan — said Labor’s victory presents an opportunity to grow Australia’s tech sector.
CEO Kate Pounder welcomed Labor’s pledge to expand Australia’s tech workforce to 1.2 million jobs by 2030, celebrating a “shared commitment to help Australians work in them, including through reskilling and training opportunities”.
In addition, Pounder recognised Labor’s proposal to institute a $1 billion Critical Technologies Fund, a co-investment system the party claims will expand the nation’s capacity in fields like artificial intelligence, robotics and quantum computing.
“This fund will enable the tech sector to capitalise on this once in a generation opportunity to make Australia a global tech powerhouse — to deliver billions in economic activity, provide secure, flexible, well-paid jobs for Australians and make Australia the best place to start and grow a business,” Pounder said.
The Tech Council also anticipates working with the Greens in seats with a large tech presence, Pounder added.
Tech focus necessitates a new cabinet minister, Australian Information Industry Association says
In its post-election statement, the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) said it looks forward to working with Prime Minister-elect Anthony Albanese to facilitate the Critical Technologies Fund.
But such a massive project necessitates a cabinet-level position focused on government services and the digital economy, AIIA CEO Ron Gauci said.
“Our members have told us they are increasingly looking overseas for employees due to the talent squeeze,” Gauci said.
“Red tape is restricting the digital economy and could be far better targets and coordinated. A dedicated cabinet minister is needed to address these issues and support the ongoing growth of our digital economy.”
The instalment of a digital-focused cabinet minister would help the local industry commercialise its IP at home, “ensuring our IP is not sold overseas,” he added.
Labor victory a “great result” for tech sector, Daniel Petre says
A Labor government is a “good result for Australia” and a “great result” for its tech community, AirTree Ventures co-founder Daniel Petre said.
“Not only does Labor realise that innovation (and future productivity gains) is underpinned by technology, it has developed policies that will actually help and not harm our growing innovation ecosystem,” the local tech luminary told SmartCompany.
“Also having ‘teal’ members of Parliament that also understand the need to invest in R&D is a happy bonus for all Australians.”
After what has been declared Australia’s climate election, the result result shows “the majority of Australians are unhappy with Australia’s approach to climate change,” he added.
That viewpoint was shared by Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes, whose attempted takeover of AGL Energy is emblematic of a tech sector conscious of Australia’s carbon emissions.
“After bushfires & bullshit, floods & fables… comes hope,” he tweeted Sunday.