Michelle Grattan, University of CanberraMore than $500 million of a $1.2 billion digital economy strategy in Tuesday’s budget will be spent on overhauling the federal government’s myGov and My Health Record sites.
The initiatives, to be announced by Scott Morrison on Thursday, include $200.1 million for myGov, which is the main portal for people to access government services on line.
Changes will make it easier for people to find services, from childcare providers to disaster support, as well as to manage payments and claims.
The government says the time saved by the enhancements will generate benefits across the economy worth an estimated $3.6 billion over a decade.
The package will put $301.8 million into what the government describes as the “next wave” of My Health Record, expanding the system, which has 23 million registered users. My Health Record contains summaries of people’s health information. It is managed by the Australian Digital Health Agency.
Some of this spending will assist the vaccination rollout, such as giving people alerts when vaccinations are due. There will be funds to help the move of aged care into a digital system that can link in with My Health Record to make safer and more efficient transitions between aged care and hospitals and other health facilities.
In other initiatives, $124.1 million will be provided to build Australia’s capability in Artificial Intelligence. This will include a National Artificial Intelligence Centre, to promote the adoption by business of AI technologies, supported by a network of AI and digital capability centres.
More than $100 million will go to boosting digital skills including a pilot program for work-based digital cadetships.
Business will benefit from investment incentives. There will be a digital games tax offset of 30% to help Australia obtain more of the $250 billion annual global video game development market.
The Interactive Games and Entertainment Association says Australia could generate a $1 billion games industry within a decade. In 2018-19, the Australian games sector earned $144 million.
Changes to the way businesses can claim depreciation on intangible assets such as intellectual property and in-house software, and help for small businesses to build digital capacity are also in the measures.
The government will invest $111.3 million to support the Consumer Data Right (CDR) rollout. The CDR helps consumers to compare and switch between products and services. This sharpens price and service competition between providers.
The $1.2 billion in spending on the digital strategy package is over six years.
Morrison said: “We need to keep our foot on the digital accelerator to secure our economic recovery from COVID-19”.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said: “Greater digital adoption will improve our competitiveness and lift our productivity – driving job creation and higher wages”.
In a pre-budget speech on Thursday opposition leader Anthony Albanese will distance himself from the big spending Labor proposed at the last election.
He will say money was tight when he was growing up and his mother taught him “the value of a dollar”.
“That’s why, when it comes to thinking about government spending, I am cautious”.