Address to the Innovation Papers Forum

Video address

I would like to begin by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land upon which this event is being held, the Ngunnawal people.

I pay my respects to their elders, past and present and to any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the audience today.

I pay my respects to them particularly today as our ‘first innovators’, Australia’s first innovators on our great continent.

They are credited with many inventions, as you would all know.

One, however, struck me as incredibly innovative and surprising: thermoplastic resins – the very first superglue – made from spinifex grass.

Thank you very much to InnovationAUS for this opportunity to speak with you today and can only say that I’m very sorry that I can’t be there with you in person, called at short notice to the conference on nuclear non-proliferation. I was very anxious to be there in person with you all, meet the speakers and meet the other contributors.

I want to say on a personal note that I’m very disappointed to not be there in person to see the contribution from Professor Roy Green. Roy has been an outstanding leader in innovation and industry policy in Australia. He’s had a real influence on my thinking. He’s got a great contribution to go and I think he will make a fantastic contribution to the conference today. 

I note there is an outstanding line-up of presenters at this event, and can I thank them all, in advance, for all of their contributions in addition to Roy’s outstanding contribution.

I’m certain everyone here today will gain a great deal from their insights and of course from your discussions with each other.

Australia’s tech sector, as you are all aware, is filled with opportunity for Australia and Australians. 

Importantly, working in the tech sector isn’t just for those that have gone to university. 

Around 40% of the tech sector don’t have a tertiary degree, which means that it presents opportunities for all Australians in all parts of the country.

The sector is Australia’s seventh largest employer with 1 in 16 Australians working in tech sector jobs.

In fact there are more software engineers and developers in Australia than solicitors, plumbers and hairdressers.

Jobs in the tech sector are sustainable, largely higher paying, and provide greater flexibility thanks to competition across the sector to compete for workers. 

In many cases, the tech sector also provides immense opportunities for flexible work and for those working in the regions. 

And there’s something for everyone.

If you’re in HR, an accountant, a standards or policy writer, in sales or marketing, a lawyer, or if you are just enthusiastic and willing to learn, there is likely a job for you in Australia’s tech industry. 

That’s why we are backing the tech sector – because of the opportunities it presents for Australia and the opportunity it presents for Australians.

Ultimately, the Albanese Government wants to help the sector to reach its potential to contribute $250 billion to our gross domestic product and another 340,000 jobs by the end of the decade. 

But we can’t do this alone.

Collaboration across industry, business, the trade union movement, research institutions, the public service and government is vital if we are to make the most of the opportunities that lie ahead.

That’s reflected in the diversity of presenters lined up for today’s event.

They represent the breadth of the innovation and technology spectrum, and their views and insights are of immense value to the Government as we put Australia in the right position to unleash our full innovation potential.

This Government’s objective is to achieve 1.2 million tech-related jobs by 2030. 

This means working hand-in-glove with all of our stakeholders to help more Australians to get the skills needed to secure well paid work in this growing industry.

Funding for an additional 20,000 university places will also help address skills shortages.

Our Powering Australia initiative will prioritise growth and investment for the regions that have served as Australia’s engine room for so long in energy, manufacturing and resources.  

The $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund, together with Powering the Nation, will invest in high-tech, high-value manufacturing. 

It will support home grown innovation and help businesses to use research and development to climb the technological ladder and the global value chain. 

This is going to help ensure smart, skilled Australians stay on our shores, and it will also lure expertise from overseas.

The Government is calling this the ‘brain regain’.

We’re doing this because we know that technology and the tech sector have a crucial role to play in the nation’s future.

By maximising the opportunities that lie ahead Australia, in the fastest growing region in human history, we can build a robust economy, build on smart people, clever ideas and Australian ingenuity. 

Thank you very much. I hope you enjoy the speeches, the papers and the contributions and that you take this opportunity to collaborate together to build a stronger future for Australia and Australian industry.