Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Senator the Hon Arthur Sinodinos AO has taken leave on medical grounds as Australia's new Digital Economy Strategy is announced.

Sinodinos, announcing the strategy before his leave, said he will return to full duties as soon as practicable this year, and will be replaced in the interim by Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash.

Before taking leave, the minister announced the strategy will address how the government, industry, SMEs, the private sector and the public can work together on addressing the ‘digital divide', building on Australia’s strengths, developing world-leading digital businesses and encouraging a culture of lifelong learning, global thinking and positive responses to change.

“[The strategy] will outline how we can best work together to seize the benefits of digital transformation and secure Australian jobs into the future,” said Sinodinos.

The minister said he believes Australia has the potential to become a world leader in digital innovation, especially given the nation’s competitive strengths in areas such as energy resources and medical and mining related technologies.

“[This] could boost the Australian economy by $140 billion to $250 billion over the next eight years.

“To help us reach that goal, the Digital Economy Strategy will explore topics including digital infrastructure, digital business capability, and building digital skills and inclusion,” he said.

A Digital Economy Consultation Paper has been released to develop the strategy, outlining drivers of the digital economy and asking Australians to have their say in its formation.

Sinodinos has called for all Australians to share their ideas by 30 November 2017.

“A strategy for our nation should be developed by our nation,” he said.

The strategy will be released in the first half of 2018.