The Australian Government is developing a new Digital Economy Strategy and is seeking your input to identify the key issues, challenges and opportunities, with submissions closing on 30 November 2017.

It is said that the world is on the brink of a fourth industrial revolution, driven by the merging of digital domains such as the internet, blockchain, drones, smart phones, and artificial intelligence with physical and biological spheres. To get us ready for this, the Australian Government will develop a national Digital Economy Strategy, to be launched in the first half of 2018. This strategy will set out a roadmap for Government, the private sector and the community to build on Australia's competitive strengths, develop new areas of competitive advantage, create market-leading digital business capabilities and drive cultural change to ensure Australia's success in the growing digital economy. To help guide the development of this strategy, the Government has released a consultation paper.

How could this impact my business?

The rapid development of technology has caused disruption across many industries and, although this presents challenges for some, it also creates opportunities for those willing to embrace change, driving competition, innovation and productivity for the economy as a whole.

Australians are very much connected (over 90% have access to the internet), and are quick to adapt to the latest technology being offered (for example, Paypass/Paywave). Australian businesses however have not kept up, according to the World Economic Forum's Network Readiness Index.

But it also means opportunities for businesses that are willing to invest in technology, with some predicting the Australian economy could grow by $140 billion to $250 billion over the next eight years as a result of becoming a world leader in digital innovation.

What will the Digital Economy Strategy cover?

The recently released consultation paper outlines the Government's current digital agenda, the scope for this strategy (which includes a number of topics and questions), and is calling for input to shape the conversation.

Although the paper is very high-level, businesses should consider making a comment on these key areas:

  • the role of Government in controlling the regulatory framework for markets;
  • how growth in the digital economy could be facilitated by Government through policy and standard setting;
  • ways to mitigate the risks associated with digital disruption, relating to issues such as employment law, taxation and competition including abuse of market power; and
  • addressing trust, confidence and security issues, through the integrity measures that Government could put in place to protect the community.

Shaping Australia's digital future

It is clear that we can expect digital disruption to continue and that every industry will be in some way affected. It is also clear that this consultation period is very much a first step, and that there will be much more work required to turn the high-level ideas into policy directions and, ultimately, concrete regulation. Accordingly, it is important that Australian businesses keep taking part in the conversation and keep abreast of the rapidly evolving regulatory and policy developments in this area.