The government will funnel half a billion dollars into myGov and the My Health Record as part of a $1.2 billion budget package aimed at jumpstarting the digital economy.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled the funding on Thursday, in preparation for the release of a new digital economy strategy alongside next week’s federal budget.
The strategy - the government's first since December 2018 that has significant funding attached - is aimed at helping Australia become a leading digital economy by 2030.
It plans to target “investment in emerging technologies, building digital skills, encouraging business investment and enhancing government service delivery”.
One of the largest single initiatives revealed on Thursday is the government’s myGov rebuild, which will receive $200.1 million from next financial year.
The funding will flow towards the next phase of the myGov beta platform, which the Digital Transformation Agency and Services Australia have been building out since early last year.
myGov beta, which is underpinned by the government digital experience (GOVDXP) platform, promises to give citizens a single, personalised view of all of their interactions .
The government has already spent in excess of $35 million with Deloitte getting the platform to beta stage, with initial systems integration also understood to now be underway.
Employment minister Stuart Robert, who has carriage of the government's digital agenda, said that the upgrade would make myGov the "single front door for government".
"[Citizens will] go to a single location, not dissimilar to what Service NSW has done with their world leading approach to a single front door to Government," he said during a press conference.
A further $301.8 million will be funnelled into the My Health Record, which is in the midst of modernisation program that will initally replace the system's Oracle API gateway.
The funding will be used to add support for Covid-19 testing and vaccinations, as well as connect the e-health record to residential aged care facilities.
My Health Record has recieved $774.2 million since the 2017-18 budget, including $200 million in 2019-20 and 2020-21.
The digital economy strategy will also allocate $124.1 million towards “building Australia’s capability in artificial intelligence”, including $53.8 million for a national AI centre led by CSIRO’s Data61.
The funding will also be used to create a “network of AI and digital capability centres” – that could look like the hub-and-spoke model used for cyber security – to support the national centre.
In addition, the consumer data right will receive $111.3 million for an acceleration of its rollout across the banking, energy and telecommunications sectors, while around $50 million will be funnelled into “enhanc[ing] cyber security in government, data centres and future telecommunications networks”.
Other initiatives include:
- $100 million to “support digital skills”, including for a new pilot program for “work-based digital cadetships that offer a flexible way for works to build digital skills, investments in the cyber workforce and scholarships for emerging technology graduates".
- $35.7 million to “support emerging aviation technologies”, including grants to support the use of drones.
- $15.3 million to drive uptake of e-invoicing.
- $12.7 million to expand the Digital Solutions - Australian Small Business Advisory Service to help and medium businesses build digital capability.
- A digital games offset of 30 percent to support game development, as well as changes to the depreciation of intangible assets like in-house software.
Morrison said the strategy will help propel the digital transformation underway across the economy, one of the nation’s biggest opportunities and challenges.
“Every business in Australia is now a digital business. This transformation is not merely a national one that needs to happen – it’s a global one that is happening,” he said.
“We must keep our foot on the digital accelerator to secure our economic recovery from Covid-19.”
Digital economy minister, senator Jane Hume, said the $1.2 billion funding package represented a landmark investment in Australia’s digital future.
“This is a really exciting announcement, which will drive investment and uptake of emerging technologies, unlock the value of data, build skills for a modern economy, and enhance government service delivery," she said.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the strategy will “allow Australian businesses to capitalise on the opportunities that digital technologies are creating”.
“Greater digital adoption will improve our competitiveness and lift our productivity – driving job creation and higher wages,” he said.
Updated at 2:50pm to include employment minister Stuart Robert's comments