Asia St: What Australia’s Evolving Tech Landscape Means for Companies

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What Australia’s Evolving Tech Landscape Means for Companies

October 14, 2021

Digital Minister Jane Hume, seen here alongside Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the launch of the Digital Economy Strategy (Photo Credit: Jane Hume’s Twitter Page).

BGA’s Australia team, led by Managing Director Fergus Hanson, wrote a client update on Australia’s evolving tech policy landscape. The update provided a sense of some of the key developments in the space as well as the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for companies.

Context

A confluence of issues has put the tech policy space in Australia in the spotlight. Cybersecurity, community angst about social media, the rise of the digital consumer, skills shortages and impending elections have converged to put Big Tech in the policy crosshairs.

The Australian government is active in this space both at home and abroad. At home, the government has released a Digital Economy Strategy and the recently formed Technology Council of Australia has unveiled a new roadmap. Abroad, the Australian government is strongly supporting global reform of taxation for Big Tech multinationals, while the enhanced Australia, United Kingdom and United States trilateral security partnership called “AUKUS” will focus on cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and additional undersea capabilities.

Significance

Government policy is focused around key areas, including fintech and cyber. The Australian government wants to reinforce the country’s role as one of the world’s leading fintech nations and also strengthen cyber resilience. It is also investigating some companies in areas such as digital wallets and advertising.

Government policies are already showing signs of spillover effects in Australia. Having forced Big Tech to bargain with traditional media over the posting of news content, the government believes it can pressure tech companies in other areas as well. 

Key consequences in tech policy could quickly spread to other countries in the region, making Australia an important test case. There is also growing evidence that other countries are looking to mirror Australian tech policy, meaning it will be important to shape Canberra’s policy first.

Implications

This represents an important inflection point for companies to engage. Companies have a limited opportunity to influence policies that will significantly shape Australia’s tech landscape over the next decade.

The pandemic’s evolution will be among the factors to watch in determining the trajectory of government policy. The Covid-19-driven acceleration of digital takeup is a big factor in the government’s heightened attention on tech policy.

BGA will continue to keep you updated on developments in Australia as they occur. If you have any comments or questions, please contact BGA Australia Managing Director Fergus Hanson at fhanson@bowergroupasia.com.