Friday, 01 April 2022 01:03

Part 4: Federal Budget 2022-23 response from tech leaders in Australia Featured

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Australia's 2022-23 Federal Budget has certainly garnered a lot of commentary and opinions, with this fourth article showcasing the thoughts of more tech leaders in Australia and beyond - please read on!

First we heard from the AIIA. Then came Part 1 of commentary from a range of tech leaders, followed by Part 2, then Part 3, with Part 4 now below!

1. Adam Philpott, Chief Revenue Officer at Trellix

“It is promising to hear that the Government will be spending billions of dollars to bolster Australia's offensive and defensive cyber capabilities. That said, this funding is spread over a decade at a time where cyber threats, particularly nation-state attacks, are quickly growing in prevalence, persistence and scale, so it’s essential that nations act with urgency in bolstering their Cyber capabilities.

"Our own threat intelligence and research this week revealed 97% of Australian survey respondents believe they have been targeted by nation-state cyberattack, with the average nation-state-backed cyberattack costing an estimated $1.5 million per incident.

"Moreover, 90% of Australian IT leaders think the government should do more to support organisations in defending against nation-state cyberattacks, and 92% think the government should do more to support and protect critical infrastructure from cyberattacks.

"More clarity is needed on the government’s short-term plan to support Australian businesses that are facing threats now.”

2. Alasdair Godfrey, CEO, HTANALYSTS

"Amidst a pandemic that has impacted the lives of every global citizen and claimed the lives of over 6 million, any government would be foolish not to have health at the front and centre of its campaign for re-election in May.

"In the lead up to the budgets release, Minister for Health Greg Hunt announcements have been abundant and vociferous: The establishment of Genomics Australia to translate genetic research into clinical practice, long overdue investment in better treatment for endometriosis, PBS listing of Trikafta for Cystic Fibrosis and enhanced mental health funding to name a few headline grabbing punts.

"When it came to it the morning of the budget revealed no major health policy changes, which likely surprised no one. However, more good news announcements should be expected before May - it just makes sense that a government that is seen strong on health will be popular with an Australian public suffering pandemic PTSD."

3. Brodie Haupt, CEO & co-founder of Australian digital lending and payments platform WLTH

“The government said that small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They have positively demonstrated that via their tax cuts to small business to 25 per cent, the lowest in 50 years.

"Coupled with the Technology Investment and Skills Training Boosts, this will certainly be welcome news to one of the largest business sectors and sure to win some votes in the upcoming election. This is what strong leadership is all about.”

4. Craig Nielsen, Vice President, Asia Pacific Japan at Skyhigh Security

"We welcome the government’s investment in cyber security. As our recent global threat vector report shows, Australia continues to face cyber threats from a range of state and non-state actors. We will continue to work with the Australian Government to keep Australians safe online in these uncertain times.

5. David Rajkovic, Area Vice President, Australia and New Zealand, Commvault

“The strong investment in cyber security and skills development that was announced in the 2022-23 Australian Federal Budget will help secure Australia’s future. By investing over $9.9 billion over 10 years in the development of Australia’s cyber security capabilities, the country will be well protected against many forms of cyber attack.

"Unfortunately, no level of protection is sufficient to prevent every cyber attack from succeeding so additional investment will be required in backup and recovery capabilities to ensure that operations can be restored following an event.

“Australia’s digital skills have not kept pace with the rest of the world which is why it was so encouraging to see the 2022-23 Australian Federal Budget prioritising investment in this critical area. By building local technology skills, Australia will be well positioned to take advantage of the growing impact of technology on every corner of the economy.”

6. Luke Fossett, Director of ANZ Sales at account-to-account payments platform GoCardless

On Tech:

“While the Budget introduced some minor incentives to digitise small business and laid out the government's strategy on cybersecurity, the broader tech industry was largely left out. Given the sector contributes over 8% to Australia's GDP and employs nearly 900,000 people, this is a glaring omission.

"The government must continue supporting this high-growth sector so we can foster more home-grown start-ups with world-class offerings, following the footsteps of Afterpay, Canva and Atlassian, to name a few.

"As a first step, we would like to see the Treasurer announce more support for tech companies building our future digital infrastructure, for example, the NPP's PayTo network. At a time when the cost of living is spiralling, infrastructure like PayTo offers lower operating costs for businesses and helps ease Australia's reliance on credit card debt traps.”

On Fintech:

"It's encouraging to see greater investment in the CDR, which will ultimately empower everyday people to demand more competitive products and services by unlocking financial data.

"As we shift towards open finance, the government must remember that tech has a huge role to play in this and we need to continue to enable fintech innovators access to this initiative without getting stifled by red tape. The tech industry was largely left out of the Budget, and given the CDR is enabled by innovative technology, we need continued investment to maintain momentum with the CDR.

"As a starting point, we'd like to see the government commit to supporting the CDR's extension into business applications. This will ensure commercial data can be used to build new technology to support the growth of Australian businesses and their contribution to the economy.”

7. Mark Fazackerley, ANZ Regional Vice President, Talend

“It is encouraging to see the federal government focus on supporting a budget for STEM development skills. Australian businesses will continue their mass migration to the cloud in the years, automation across all aspects of business operations will take hold and new skills are going to be required to compete in the global digital economy.

"In order for Australia not to fall behind, we will need a workforce that is capable of applying data analytics in everyday business scenarios and educational curriculums which help to narrow the gap when it comes to data skills among Australian graduates and the ever-increasing requirement for data driven decision making. We will need a workforce that learns how to ask the right questions of data, to better inform the decisions they make to address current, real world and applied business requirements.

“Collaboration between government, private sector and educators is essential to up-skill the workforce of today. We look forward to working with both educators and enterprises to empower more Australians with analytics skills to make rapid, insightful decisions at a time where the demand for data to make informed decisions is exploding.

8. Matt Tyrell, APAC Commercial Director at API for business data, Codat

On Tech:

“It's nice to see a shake-up of the employee share scheme, but the tech industry was again overlooked in the Budget. Despite tech quickly becoming one of our most profitable industries, we've been left high and dry, particularly in addressing the skills shortage crippling Australian tech companies.

"The proposed training and upskilling incentives are long-term solutions that don't create immediate fixes. We need support now, including the immediate easing of restrictions around hiring skilled migrants and incentives for small startups trying to attract talent who can't compete with the Atlassians, Googles, and Facebooks of the world.”

On SMB:

“The Government knows small businesses are struggling with cashflow; this is evident in the changes to PAYG and GST instalments. However, small businesses need more support, especially after two years of lockdowns.

"The Budget lacks any reliable vehicles to improve access to finance or grants to help them back on their feet. The technology deduction is a good start; however, it's unlikely to go far enough to be able to offset the rising cost of operations and wages - and the instant asset write-off scheme seems to have disappeared.

"More needs to be done to improve access to finance and working capital for small businesses who are frequently underserved by banks.”

On Fintech:

“It's positive to see spending allocated to expanding the Consumer Data Right (CDR). Still, it's concerning that the focus of this initiative seems to lean towards consumers only, with the inclusion of telecoms as the primary focus.

"The CDR rollout should be prioritised around financial systems and platforms (such as Xero or Stripe) used by businesses to turbo charge innovation and digitisation. The needs of businesses are being overlooked when it comes to the expansion of the CDR, despite business data standing to have a more significant impact on the economy than just consumers. “

9. Narendra Tumkur, Principal at Endava Australia

“The 2022-23 Australian Federal Budget included a range of provisions aimed at growing the digital and cyber-security skills as well as capabilities in the Australian space industry.

"This investment will provide much needed support across the economy as every industry looks to grow their competitiveness with technology. By creating a strong pipeline of tech talent, the country will be better able to compete at an international level and deliver growth across industries.

“Supporting the focus on skills development, changes to the visa requirements will enable an increase in the number and range of skilled technology workers entering the country and compound the benefits of the investment in technology skills development.

“Beyond skills, the government has committed significant resources to expanding capabilities in technology including cyber defence and an investment in the space industry. This commitment to technology will drive the economy forward and open many new opportunities for Australian’s.”

10. Rachael Greaves, CEO and CO-Founder, Castlepoint Systems

"The budget looks set to invest heavily in infrastructure projects, only some of which have been listed by Infrastructure Australia as priorities. It’s likely that this spend will be contested, and recent history shows that the future defensibility of these decisions will come down to recordkeeping.

"A review of ANAO Audits for the last six months show that 8 out of 12 (66%) found serious issues with records management, including the contract administration of the Research and Development Tax Incentive grant and the Defence Industry Security Program.

"Defence also ran an internal audit which found that its grants program had poor record-keeping habits and was unable to locate documents, including financial assessments.

"The NSW State Archives and Records Authority Inquiry into the shredding and destruction of documents by the Premier’s office, also related to controversial infrastructure grants programs, had significant outcomes. This time, deletion simply won’t be defensible."

11. Sam Kroonenberg, Executive Strategic Advisor at Pluralsight (previously CEO and Co-Founder of A Cloud Guru):

On IT skills shortage & jobs creation

“The $550 million in tax relief announced in the 2022-2023 Australian Federal for small businesses that invest in upskilling existing and new employees in the space is, in some ways, encouraging. At Pluralsight, we believe everyone should have the opportunity to create progress through technology and develop the skills of tomorrow, and this investment aligns with that thinking.

"However, we are again disappointed to see the Federal Budget fail to adequately address the Australian technology skills gap that stands as a major roadblock for the country to become a top 10 digital economy by 2030.

“We’ve seen the need to adopt emerging technologies in areas such as cloud computing, machine learning, and cybersecurity increase quickly across all industries in the past two years. And the technology skills shortage grows right alongside this—regardless of business size or industry.

"In fact, where the government is also provisioning a tax deduction of 120% of the money small businesses invest in emerging technologies—technologies which demand skilled workers to be rolled out and used—the small business skills spend is unlikely to push the needle at all.

“The investment in education and STEM provide some support, and the relaxing of VISA requirements will help relieve some pressure with technology workers from overseas re-entering the economy. By encouraging people to enter the industry, we hope to see the economy benefit from the growth that technology provides while bringing the market in line with our global peers.”

12. Tonia Berglund, Director of Product at Envestnet | Yodlee

“It is disappointing to see that investment into the Consumer Data Right (CDR) hasn’t been a high priority in this year’s National Liberal Party’s Budget. Last year, the government announced the investment of $111.3 million to accelerate the rollout of the CDR.

"This year it’s a modest $38.4 million over 3 years from 2022-23, and $12.6 million per year ongoing from 2025-26. Australia has made major strides in becoming a global leader in open banking over the past 12 months. In a move towards open finance, Treasury recently expanded the CDR from banking, energy and telecommunications to non-bank lending, insurance, superannuation, and payments data.

"We also had the new representative models come into play in February, which opened the playing field to the smallest of FinTechs. That said, the Federal Budget is a major moment in the political calendar, and open banking’s ability to drive financial innovation, improve financial products, and increase financial wellness by enabling consumers to see all their finances in one place – means it should continue to be a priority.”

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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