Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison this evening unveiled his 2017-18 budget with a focus on growth.
ACS President, Anthony Wong, said the 2017-18 Federal Budget has delivered good news for expediting Australia’s transition to a digital and knowledge economy.
“We would see three key pillars to achieving an economy higher up the value chain and one which affords higher paying jobs; these being a strong banking and finance sector, a strong cyber security capability that delivers trust, and developing high-level STEM skills in the education system.”
Here’s what you need to know about the 2017-18 Budget:
Skilling Aussies to do local jobs
As reported by Information Age last month, the Australian Government has killed off the 457 visa program and replaced it with a Temporary Skills Shortage visa.
"Skilled migration has always played a significant role in driving our economic growth. But it must be on our terms. And we must skill Australians to secure those Australian jobs," said Morrison.
Now, any employer bringing in an overseas skilled worker must pay a levy into the new Skilling Australians Fund.
This money will be used to train Australians via apprenticeships and traineeships.
"Until now, employers have had to contribute 1 or 2 per cent of their payroll to training if they employ foreign workers. These requirements have proven difficult to police,” admitted Morrison.
The government is replacing these requirements with an annual foreign worker levy of $1,200 or $1,800 per worker per year on temporary work visas and a $3,000 or $5,000 one-off levy for those on a permanent skilled visa, according to the budget.
"Over the next four years, $1.2 billion will be raised from this levy that will contribute directly to a new Commonwealth-State Skilling Australians Fund. States and Territories will only be able to draw on this fund when they deliver on their commitments to train new apprentices."
It is expected the fund will support the skilling of up to 300,000 Australians, and “priority will be given to occupations in high demand that currently rely heavily on skilled migration, future growth industries and rural and regional areas.”
Cybersecurity gets a boost
The Digital Transformation Agency has been gifted with $10.7 million over four years to set up the Cyber Security Advisory Office (CSAO). It’s job? To work with government agencies to ensure they’re up to scratch managing cyber threats.
The CSAO will provide strengthened central governance and assurance for cyber security and broader project vulnerability across government, according to the budget.
No more double taxing on digital currency
You pay GST to buy digital currency, then get charged GST when you use the currency to buy goods in Australia. The double-taxing has been viewed as a deterrent by the fintech sector but the government is now removing it.
From 1 July 2017, double-taxing is gone – purchases of digital currency will no longer be subject to GST allowing digital currencies to be treated like money for GST purposes.
2030 Strategic Plan
What does our innovation and science future look like? In 13 years, things could be very different.
The Government has commissioned Innovation and Science Australia to develop a 2030 Strategic Plan for Australia’s Innovation, Science and Research (ISR) System, according to the budget.
The 2030 Strategic Plan will outline what Australia’s ISR system should look like into the future. “To ensure that Australia is positioned as a world leader in innovation, we need to identify priorities now in order to build capabilities and maximise our innovative potential.”
After a small $200,000 investment in fintech last budget, the Government wants to establish Australia as a leading global fintech hub.
The budget is introducing a “world-leading legislative financial services regulatory sandbox to enable new and innovative FinTech products and services to be tested in Australia.”
The Government will legislate an “enhanced regulatory sandbox that allows more businesses to test a wider range of new financial products and services without a licence, including providing more holistic financial advice, issuing consumer credit, offering short-term deposit or payment products, and operating a CSEF intermediary.”
It is hoped this will reduce “regulatory hurdles which have traditionally suffocated new businesses trying to develop innovative financial products or services, and caused Australian talent go offshore.”
Robust consumer protections and disclosure requirements will be in place to protect customers including responsible lending obligations, best interest duty, and the need for adequate compensation and dispute resolution arrangements, according to the budget.