Labor has promised to “grow” Australia’s quantum technology industry by investing $3 million in PhD research should it win the federal election on Saturday.
Shadow defence minister Brendon O’Connor and shadow assistant minister for cyber security Tim Watts announced the funding late on Wednesday.
A further $1 million will be invested to “kickstart national collaboration on quantum research and education, based on the successful Sydney Quantum Academy model”.
The Sydney Quantum Academy is a partnership between Macquarie University, UNSW, the University of Sydney and UTS, and the state government.
“Graduate research is the raw fuel that powers a nation’s domestic quantum industry – the quantum PhD students of today are the start-up founders and commercial pioneers of tomorrow,” the pair said.
“Quantum technology promises breakthroughs in weapons, communications, sensing and computing technology including for military use, and the potential for strategic advantage has spurred a major increase in funding and research and development... overseas.”
O’Connor and Watts pointed to long-term investments by past Labor governments, including the Rudd government’s $40m investment in the Sydney Nanonscience Hub, for Australia “comparative advantage in quantum technology”.
“Sydney Nano and Microsoft later partnered to leverage tens of millions of dollars of further investment in the site that now employs over 100 highly skilled engineers and scientist,” they said.
Quantum technology, along with aritificial intelligence and robotics, are some of the technologies targeted by Labor's $1 billion Critical Technologies Investment Fund, which forms part of the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund.
Last year, the Coalition invested $111 million towards the commercialisation, adoption and use of quantum technology, including $70 million for a Quantum Commercialisation Hub, and has agreed to collaborate with the US on quantum as part of the AUKUS security pact.