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‘A non-event for Australian tech’: Here’s what’s in the federal budget for the tech and startup sectors

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On Monday, when federal treasurer Jim Chalmers sent his first Labor budget to the printers, a number of PRs about expensive commissions sent startups Startup Daily their pre-budget wish lists. It was a bit like emailing Santa your Amazon gift list on Christmas Eve.

On Tuesday, Chalmers delivered socks, jocks and chocolates into the second budget of 2022, just six months after one in the last days of an unwanted government, which unsuccessfully tried to save them from obscurity.

You can read more about what’s in the Chalmers version here.

Perhaps the main problem is that the new treasurer is postponing all really big decisions – such as withdrawing fiscal policy in line with the brakes the RBA is applying to monetary policy – ​​until next fiscal year, when things will be back on track with a traditional May budget for FY24.

As a tragic budget described it as “nibbling at the edges” for Startup Daily after sifting through the details.

“The labor budget is a non-event for Australian tech – I hope you didn’t fall asleep reading it,” they said.

There have been few surprises for the tech sector—perhaps most notably a $4 million cut to a program that helps women learn—as the take-outs are widely known and either deliver on election promises to deliver on pledges. done at the Jobs & Skills Summit in September.

Promises kept

FY23’s permanent migration program is increased from 160,000 to 195,000.

There is $76.4 million over 4 years for the results of the Summit to help build a larger, better educated and more productive workforce, increase real wages and living standards, and create more opportunities for more Australians .

That includes $42.2 million over two years to increase visa processing and marketing capacity for highly skilled potential migrants to move Down Under.

There is $15.4 million over 4 years, then $2.8 million per year for the Startup Year program. That’s the one that offers a HECS-style loan program annually for up to 2,000 recent graduates, postgraduates, and senior students to join a one-year, business-focused accelerator program at a university to kick-start their startup vibe.

On the climate front, a modest $141.1 million will be “re-arranged” from investments in carbon capture technologies to prioritize technology development for hard-to-reduce industrial sectors (such as cement manufacturing); accelerate carbon dioxide removal and negative emission technologies (such as direct air capture); and support research opportunities for institutions, as well as industry and international partners

Another $62.6 million over 3 years will go to support small to medium-sized businesses to fund upgrades of energy efficient equipment as part of reducing emissions, demand and hopefully utility bills.

The new Secretary of Industry and Science, Ed Husic, has issued a publication referring to $111.3 million in subsidies for regional production.

“We are delivering on the commitments we have made to the Australian people to build a stronger and more resilient future,” said Minister Husic.

“We want to be a country that makes more onshore – and that means supporting the companies that make things here and supporting production in regional Australia.”

It includes the previously announced $10.1 million for Flinders University’s Factory of the Future; $12.6 million for Cytiva’s Springfield BioPark project in Ipswich, Queensland; and $17.2 million to set up a pilot Food Manufacturing Innovation Hub on the NSW Central Coast.

The rest will go to Tasmania and five projects ranging from a $50 million zinc smelter upgrade to a chicken processing plant and wool mill.

One of the big ticket items is the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund, which co-invests in projects in seven priority areas: resources; agriculture, forestry and fishing; transport; medical science; renewable energy sources and low-emission technologies; defense capability; and activating capabilities.

Initially, there is $50 million over two years to set the framework for the Fund.

There is $4.8 million over four years to attract and retain Australia’s quantum tech talent, including support for 20 PhDs and to enable universities to kick-start national collaboration on quantum research and education.

An additional $5.8 million will go to the Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship program plus an independent assessment of government programs to ensure they support greater diversity in Australia’s science and technology sectors.

One of the largest expenditure items is another $2.4 billion over four years for the NBN. It is an equity stake for the technology company to have full-fibre broadband available to 1.5 million households and businesses by 2025, mainly in suburban and regional areas. That was announced a week before the budget.

Throw in $10 million for $10 million for strengthening Australian science and research leadership in Asia-Pacific over the next five years, another $10 million for that wonderful institution Questacon in Canberra to expand STEM engagement activities to help the children to become scientists and engineers and there you have the key presses for tech in the run up to Christmas.

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