The Australian Computer Society (ACS) was a major influence on the Government’s Select Committee on Financial Technology and Regulatory Technology recommendations in its recent interim report.

Speaking with Information Age, committee chair Senator Andrew Bragg said ACS’ insights helped understand the importance of technology for the economy.

“ACS provided what is very good data and evidence about the role of technology in the Australian society – and that was crucial evidence for our committee,” Bragg told Information Age.

“The key narrative here is technology is a jobs creator not a jobs killer and ACS has presented that to us very clearly.”

In an appearance before the committee earlier this year, ACS’ outgoing CEO, Andrew Johnson, reaffirmed key research in the ACS’ submission which pointed to a potential $16 billion opportunity for Australia to leverage financial technologies (fintech) in the next 15 years.

Senator Bragg said it was especially important to get the narrative right around technology given the current economic conditions.

“As a capital importing nation which has had a record run of growth – 29 years – which has now come to an end, no one owes us a favour as a country,” he said.

“So we've got to be smart enough to embrace technology; we can't be fooled by spooky campaigns about technology.

“It's terribly important that we get that narrative right.”

The committee handed down its interim report earlier this month, offering 32 recommendations to the government.

Those recommendations spanned from changes to the R&D tax incentive scheme to better include software development, through to calls for the government to make available technology-related micro-credentials to help workers retrain.

In its submission, ACS pointed specifically to micro-credentials as a way to rapidly upskill workers and provide much-needed economic value.

“The ACS strategy commits under our catalyst pillar to positively influence the national agenda,” Johnson said.

“Our Gamechangers Election Manifesto was the foundation from May 2019. And now supporting the work of the Select Committee, it is pleasing to see that advocacy being taken up amongst the 32 recommendations”

ACS advocacy contributed specifically to:

Recommendation 20

The committee recommends that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, or the new proposed national Consumer Data Right (CDR) body, finalise the rules for intermediary and third party access to CDR banking data by late 2020, and enable intermediaries to enter the CDR ecosystem as soon as possible thereafter.

Recommendation 24

The committee recommends that the Australian Government amend the Early Stage Innovation Company and Early Stage Venture Capital Limited Partnerships qualification criteria to widen access to startups and investors.

Recommendation 27

The committee recommends that the Australian Government foster a culture where superannuation funds invest more widely, including in Australian startups, without undermining the sole purpose test.

Recommendation 31

The committee recommends that the Australian Government work with industry to ensure reskilling of workers affected by economic change and the availability and accessibility of microcredentials for those seeking to join the FinTech and RegTech industries.

Bragg recognised ACS as a key advocate for building and maintaining the workforce of the future.

“I think the most important thing is that we have that culture of innovation in our psyche, embedded in our regulatory framework, and that we have an open positive disposition towards technology, foreign capital, new ideas,” he said.

“And I would say that ACS has been a really constructing, really positive contributor to these issues and to this particular select committee.”

The Select Committee on Financial Technology and Regulatory Technology is set to hand down its final report in October.