Some of Australia’s biggest names in technology, education and telecommunications have had their say on Australia’s transformation to a digital economy.

Following its call for submissions in September 2017, the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science has released 142 responses to the Digital Economy Strategy consultation paper.

The release of the submissions to the public indicates that Australia’s first-ever national digital economy strategy could be revealed shortly.

Here is what some of the key players in the Aussie ecosystem had to say.

Tech companies

Google believes Australia must look globally to produce a fruitful transformation -- and it didn’t hold back on the government’s recent 457 visa changes, labelling the current system to be “uncompetitive".

It called on the government to “fix skilled migration policy,” in the report.

“As a result of the government’s changes to Australia’s skilled migration visa system in 2017, Google Australia has had to revise its Australian recruitment plans.

“Immigration policy has been raised as a key policy concern by Australian and international businesses, and by the fast-growing Australian startup and venture capital communities.

“The jobs of the future in Australia are under threat unless continued access to highly-skilled workers can be maintained.

Microsoft’s submission urged the government to engage with emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence so the government could establish itself as a leader in the digital economy.

It also spoke of the economic opportunities that could be realised for the government “by better leveraging its existing data assets more effectively, opening up more unclassified data for public use.”

Microsoft referenced research that said this could generate an extra $25 billion a year to the Australian economy.

Meanwhile, self-professed “technological optimists” Adobe said the digital economy must be a citizen centric one, despite the rise of automated systems.

“Millions of Australians go to work each day to jobs they either actively dislike, or have only partial engagement with,” the submission said.

“Perhaps this is just a fact of life, part of the human condition. However, it is likely that automation and technology advances are going to change jobs in ways that are impossible to predict.”

The submission expressed the need for the government to ensure humans can work collaboratively alongside automated systems, by making employee experience the top priority.

It suggested the government “invest in humans” and suggested secondary and tertiary education systems give attention to soft skills such as self-awareness and empathy.

Tertiary education

University of Technology Sydney (UTS) highlighted the importance of creating a culture of lifelong learning if Australian workers are to be able to positively respond to the challenges of the future.

This requires a step away from traditional classrooms and single degrees, according to the university.

“Agile learning platforms” are needed to help workers continually adapt to digital transformation.

UTS recommended digital short courses and micro credentials be added to the tertiary education system in order to ensure workers can be continually upskilling throughout their careers.

Meanwhile, TAFE Directors Australia called on the government to do more to bridge the digital divide.

It highlighted that individuals from lower socio-economic groups and in rural and regional communities were most at risk of being marginalised by the digital divide, risking the creation of a subclass in society.

“For Australia to thrive in a digital future, we must recognise the role that technology plays in all occupations,” the organisation stated.

“Along this line of reasoning, it is critical to embed digital skills across all workplace roles, and, by extension, all qualifications.”

It called for the government to “recognise and adequately fund” the acquisition of digital skills into all levels of education, following a national discussion on exactly what digital skills are required.


5G and the Internet of Things (IoT) were Telstra's hot topics, following the launch of the IoT network in September.

It signposted 5G as a “network of the future", able to offer superfast speeds and support the IoT.

“5G mobile technology will take us from a world of connecting people to people, and people to the internet, to a world that includes connecting machines to machines on a mass scale,” the telco said.

“This is a technology that will fundamentally change the way our world works.”

The telco stated that industries are only just starting to see the opportunities 5G brings with it and that it has begun research into emerging technologies such as drones and virtual and augmented reality, which it believes will form part of the 5G ecosystem.

Optus echoed Telstra’s claims, forecasting the impact of IoT to be “immense” in the near future.

It called on Australia to look at the innovation ecosystem in Scandinavia, where the government takes a ‘triple helix’ role as facilitator, funder and anchor tenant – rather than being just one.

It also cited its upcoming Commonwealth Games project, where 30 venues have been connected for broadcasting, telephony, internet and cloud services, as an example of “bold” digitisation.

It implored the government to begin similar projects elsewhere, without a major event as catalyst.