Australia’s Digital Economy Strategy | 2021-2022


The recent 2021-2022 Australian Budget announcement delivered several important initiatives for the space and spatial community.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison noted that every business in Australia “is now a digital business,” including those who use geospatial services such as “the farmer who keeps track of their herd with electronic tags or drones.” The digital economy is key to securing Australia’s economic future and recovery from COVID-19. The Digital Economy Strategy targets investments that will underpin improvements in jobs, productivity and make Australia’s economy more resilient.

Making Government assets discoverable to support more data use.

Effective and large-scale use of data is powering the global and connected digital economy, presenting significant economic opportunities for all sectors. The COVID‑19 pandemic highlighted the need for efficient and effective data sharing to enable effective policy responses to pressing issues. 

Australia has committed to improving access to and use of government data, assisted by the passage and implementation of the Data Availability and Transparency Bill. However, most government agencies do not currently maintain a comprehensive inventory of the data they hold, limiting their ability to understand the value of their data holdings, and making it difficult to find data when needed. This hampers access to data to support digital transformation and enable innovative, data-driven projects, and makes it harder to respond quickly during times of need.

A key component of the Digital Economy Strategy is The Digital Atlas of Australia.  Geoscience Australia will lead this national data initiative to equip governments, businesses and the community with the information they need to make data-driven decisions tailored to local economic, social and environmental settings. It has been announced as a free interactive platform, enabling access to authoritative national datasets on Australia’s geography, people, economy, employment, infrastructure, health, land and the environment. The new platform will embed analysis tools that allow anyone to explore, graph, analyse and compare information that meets their needs in their neighbourhood and across the country.

Geoscience Australia (GA) are also collaborating to establish the $210 million Australian Climate Service that will connect and leverage the Commonwealth’s extensive climate and natural hazard information into a single national view to meet the significant information challenges in managing national disasters. GA, Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO and the Australian Bureau of Statistics will deliver this service to Emergency Management Australia and the new National Recovery and Resilience Agency.

The Office of the National Data Commissioner will lead a pilot program to develop data inventories for 20 per cent of Australian government agencies. Common standards and shared infrastructure will be used to aggregate individual agency inventories into a government-wide catalogue of government-held data assets.

The catalogue will complement existing catalogues on open data platforms, particularly, and support greater data transparency of government data holdings and promote reuse, including with other jurisdictions, researchers, and the private sector. It will, amongst other things, allow the Government to respond quickly in emergencies, and will help transition Australia to a data driven economy, including making Australia more attractive to investors seeking to create new data driven products and services.

Following is a summary of the 2021-22 Portfolio Budget Statements initiatives:

Data and Digital Economy
  • An Australian Data Strategy to create a data-driven economy through better data use
  • $111.3 million to support the acceleration of the Consumer Data Right rollout
  • $40.2 million to deliver the Digital Atlas of Australia
  • $16.5 million for a pilot program to make the Australian Government’s data assets discoverable and support whole-of-economy reuse
  • $210 million for climate information services.
Digital Skills
  • $10.7 million for the Digital Skills Cadetship Trial to deliver work-based learning opportunities for in-demand digital jobs
  • $22.6 million over six years for Next Generation Emerging Technology Graduates Program that will provide more than 200 competitive national scholarships in emerging technologies
Artificial Intelligence
  • Investing $53.8 million over four years to create the National Artificial Intelligence Centre that will drive business adoption of AI technologies by coordinating Australia’s AI expertise and capabilities
  • Providing $33.7 million over four years to support Australian businesses to partner with government to pilot projects for AI-based solutions to national challenges
  • Providing $12 million over five years to catalyse the AI opportunity in our regions by co-funding up to 36 competitive grants to develop AI solutions that address local or regional problems
Industry, Science and Resources
  • $387.2 million to co-host the SKA Observatory
  • $13.3 million for the Australian Space Agency for regulatory and technical advisory capacity and the growth of industry
Investment Incentives
  • Allowing taxpayers to self-assess the effective life of certain depreciating intangible assets. This change enables businesses to bring forward the depreciation in order to improve cash flow and invest in the next innovation
Emerging Aviation Technologies
  • The National Emerging Aviation Technology Policy Statement to set the framework for managing these new technologies
  • $32.6 million over two years for an Emerging Aviation Technology Partnerships program to support the use of emerging aviation technologies to address priority community, mobility and cargo needs across regional Australia
  • Scope for the development of the National Drone Detection Network