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Australia budget 2023: Hits and misses

While the initial response to the Australian budget’s impact on small businesses has been positive, some industry experts are starting to voice their disappointment with the budget’s provisions. Our experts weigh in on what the budget got right and what it missed in terms of supporting the growth and development of small businesses in Australia.

Sara Brown, Australia Business Manager, n3 Hub

“We applaud the government’s focus on digital, AI and data investments which should now spur company management within businesses of all sizes grappling with a hybrid workforce and uncertain market conditions to adopt a proactive approach to greater automation.  

“New government support with instant write-offs should help businesses invest in tools that will help them work smarter and put them in a better position to make the most of new business opportunities ahead.  However, any IT investment should begin with a governance and compliance strategy as the best way to keep the project on track, ensure visibility and result in the business achieving maximum benefit.”

Jo Anne Ruhl, VP and MD, Workday Aus/Nz

“The 2023 Federal Budget is a significant step towards building a strong and resilient digital economy in Australia. As we navigate the rapidly evolving digital landscape, it is essential to equip our workforce with the necessary digital skills and knowledge to drive innovation and economic growth. It is encouraging to see the Government’s commitment to a skills-led talent strategy, which is critical given the global competition for talent. AI-driven tools will play a vital role in helping organisations upskill employees and remain competitive.

“The Government’s investment of over $2 billion in new digital solutions, modernising outdated IT systems, and foundational work to maximise future investment value is a significant move towards a more productive and safer digital future.

“The expansion of Digital ID with an investment of $26.9 million in 2023-24 will increase efficiency and consumer protection, reduce fraud, and make online services easier. The investment in the Consumer Data Right and cyber security uplift is also noteworthy.

“The allocation of $101.2 million over five years to support the development and uptake of technologies, particularly in quantum and artificial intelligence, is a positive move towards growing critical technology industries. Extending the National AI Centre’s role in responsible AI usage and creating an Australian Centre for Quantum Growth to amplify Australia’s quantum ecosystem will undoubtedly contribute to Australia’s technological advancement and global competitiveness.

“With only 16 per cent of women holding STEM qualifications in Australia, we are pleased that the 2023 budget includes funding for programs to increase this representation. Investing in talent development and promoting diversity and inclusion in the tech sector will create a more equitable society and unlock new opportunities for innovation and growth.”

Christian Lucarelli, Vice President Asia Pacific, Nintex

“We are excited about the Australian government’s commitment to building a productive and safe digital future. At Nintex we recognise that our technology needs to be built with data protection, sovereignty, and privacy at its core. As our customers begin to explore the potential of new technologies like AI, we will continue to adopt a privacy and security posture that’s designed to prevent misuse and protect customers’ data.”

Ben Thompson, Co-founder and CEO of Employment Hero

“With the announcement of the federal budget, it’s positive to see a focus on supporting small businesses who are currently facing extreme financial pressures amid economic headwinds.

“SMEs, particularly small businesses, have had a challenging few years, and with the cost of living pressures and inflation rates undermining new small business growth, it’s encouraging to see a budget putting some backing behind a sector that may be feeling disheartened and disregarded. 

“With the Government starting to now follow through with practical financial actions for helping the SME community, such as the $2.1 million injection of cashflow relief for small businesses, there will no doubt be some legitimate relief for struggling employers in the coming months. This will help improve the balance between cash flow and managing income tax and GST liabilities.

“The budget’s small business instant asset write-off will help make it easier for the sector to support growth by investing in a safe way, with $290 million in cash flow support, instead of walking a financial tightrope where businesses’ livelihood and that of their families are on the line.”

Luke Fossett, GM of ANZ at GoCardless

“This year’s Federal Budget is a significant improvement over last year’s – specifically when it comes to financial infrastructure and small business.
The government’s commitment to invest $88.8m over two years to support the Consumer Data Right (CDR) across banking, energy and non-bank lending sectors will hopefully assist in making the CDR initiative more accessible and valuable for participants. Ideally, this will also lead to initiatives and streamlining to ensure more providers become accredited.

“Cashflow relief for 2.1 million eligible small businesses is long overdue and will no doubt be embraced across all sectors, as will the $3 billion in direct energy bill relief to households and small businesses and the new Small Business Energy Incentive, which will ideally provide businesses with the cash flow they need to modernise their operations and continue to save into the future.”

Nicholas Woodward, Country Manager of PACK & SEND

“One area where the government has allocated funds effectively is in providing relief for SMEs struggling with energy bills. The sharp rise in energy prices has put a strain on businesses across the country. The introduction of energy bill relief measures will undoubtedly provide much-needed respite for SMEs, including businesses like PACK & SEND, who will benefit from incentives to invest in energy-efficient technology. These initiatives alleviate financial burdens and promote sustainability, aligning with the broader goals of building a greener and more environmentally conscious economy.

“The allocation of funds for SME cyber protections recognises the pressing need to address the growing cyber threats faced by small businesses. For many SME owners, cyber risk ranks low on their list of priorities due to the daily challenges they face. However, the government’s investment in this area is a welcome step, as it acknowledges cyber security’s critical role in safeguarding sensitive data and digital infrastructure. Adequate funding for cyber security programs will empower SMEs to implement robust security measures and protect their operations from increasing cyber-attacks targeting small businesses. Additionally, these initiatives enhance the resilience of SMEs, bolster their reputation, and foster customer trust, creating a more secure and stable business environment.”

“However, while the government has shown effectiveness in certain areas, there are areas where greater attention and funding allocation could have been beneficial for SMEs. Mental health support services, for instance, have not received the expected allocation in the budget. Many SMEs are still grappling with the aftermath of the pandemic, facing economic pressures, and dealing with the trauma of the past year. Increased spending on mental health support is crucial to address the well-being of business owners and their employees, ensuring they have access to the necessary support and resources to navigate these challenging times.

“Additionally, rising costs of living, including rent, interest rates, and the overall impact on spending, pose significant challenges for SMEs. Running a business is not immune to the rising cost pressures that individuals and families experience. Every dollar spent on running a business affects the income earned by business owners, who are often parents and members of the community. Balancing responsible policies that control spending and address cost pressures without pushing families and businesses over the edge is essential. A more comprehensive approach that considers the long-term impact on health, community well-being, and the ability of SMEs to remain competitive is necessary.”

Ashish Kumar, President of Kyndryl A/NZ

“I applaud theTreasury’s focus on productivity in this Budget, its commitment to modernise ICT systems, and invest in new technology and skills. All of us in the ICT space, including our company Kyndryl, must now strive to create value and clear deliverables from these investments while continuing to deliver the services Australians need.”

 “This Budget recognises that the windfall effect of commodity prices will not last indefinitely and that Australia must focus on high-value work, with more high value skills and higher value products – underpinned by world class technology – in order to maintain and enhance our living standards. With the right investments in ICT, education and skills building, the opportunities for Australia’s long-term economy and for the nation to play a vital and leading role in the global digital economy are huge.”

Nathan Knight, MD for Aus/NZ, Hitachi Vantara

“We welcome the Federal Government’s focus on data and digitisation fit for purpose in the modern business economy.  Indeed, investing in new technology to achieve competitive differentiation should become a key focus for business in the year ahead as organisations deploy solutions that drive revenue and make them more productive.   A part of that investment will involve investing in IT skills, digital identity, Quantum computing and AI which in the long run will enable companies to be more agile and productive.    

“In addition, it is very encouraging to see the government’s incremental investment in cybersecurity to help protect the innovation and capabilities of our citizens, businesses and Federal agencies.  This aligns strongly to the development of a strong and credible sovereign ecosystem, a critical outcome from the recent pandemic.

“During times of rapid change and global economic uncertainty, it can be tempting to put your head down and simply continue with business as usual.   At the same time, we can no longer afford to see innovation in everyday business processes stifled by the immediate requirement for day-to-day productivity.  This is no longer an option and the government’s budget now provides a positive incentive to take the risk to innovate to develop and adopt smart technologies such as cloud and AI for long-term success.  At the same time, investment in a healthy Australian IT industry will help attract the best talent to the profession, increase diversity of skills and carve out new export opportunities.”

Raghu Rajakumar, CEO and Co-Founder of Eden Exchange

“We’re pleasantly surprised by the $392 million assigned to launch the Industry Growth Program. The initiative opens exciting opportunities for small businesses and startups to commercialise their concepts, and strengthen and scale operations while contributing towards a more innovation-first Australian economy. We’re also pleasantly surprised by the $101.2 million over five years to be used to support small businesses integrating quantum and AI technologies into their operations. 

“This is a major opportunity for organisations to foster innovation and for businesses like ours at Eden Exchange, who are already integrating and assessing these impacts on our services and technology. Increasing VACs from July 1, 2023, with an additional 40 percentage points, is adding additional costs to investors and venture capitalists wanting to come to Australia with requirements for business innovation and investment visas. We are somewhat surprised by this announcement, as we are seeing the emergence of major economies around the world looking to invest in innovative Australian businesses.”

“We also welcome the news that small businesses will be encouraged to buy energy-efficient assets, and that the energy bill relief is available to small businesses. It’s also great to see that companies with a turnover of less than $50m can now deduct an additional 20% of the cost of depreciating assets that are eligible under the small business energy incentive measure. This is a significant step towards becoming more energy-conscious and supporting a greener economy.”

“Australia’s small businesses have often been overlooked during high-value government contracts, with application processes often leaning towards bigger competitors. The federal government claims its ‘Buy Australia Plan’ will improve SME access to these opportunities, injecting $18.1 million over four years from 2023–24 set to help businesses compete for tenders, update the AusTender system, and bolster SME awareness of federal government contracts. This move, in theory, is very exciting. However, only time will tell if small businesses will be genuinely considered for these opportunities and whether it will have any impact on SME growth in the long-run.”

Dulce Munoz, National Convenor for Mums 4 Refugees

“The federal budget outcomes are very disappointing and more needs to be done on multiple fronts. There has been no increase to Australia’s humanitarian program, despite ongoing humanitarian crises around the world. People seeking asylum are still excluded from essential supports like Child Support subsidies and JobSeeker. Consequently, while it continues to be incredibly challenging for asylum seekers to join the workforce due to systemic barriers, and though there will be increases to JobSeeker payments, generating their own financial income and stability is only going to continue to be hard, if not become harder under this budget. Migrants, particularly international students, have also been abandoned. From July 1, international students will only be able to work 48 hours per fortnight at most, forcing them into insecure jobs and increasing their chances of being exploited by employees. 

“The federal government has missed yet another opportunity to drive real change. There are a range of benefits refugees bring to the communities they settle in, and this is backed by various studies. It is challenging for refugees to find paid work at first, but over time they contribute to high labour participation rates, significant economic contributions, and higher rates of entrepreneurialism. Despite the government’s ongoing talks around change and supporting our most vulnerable communities, we  are still lacking tangible action from our leaders. It’s time Australia finally treated refugees and asylum seekers with humanity; financially, it makes sense, too.  It costs almost A$3.4m to hold someone offshore in Nauru or Papua New Guinea, and A$362,000 to hold someone in detention in Australia. However, it costs a mere A$4,429 for an asylum seeker to live in the community on a bridging visa while their claim is processed.

“While the Albanese Labor government has agreed to give permanent visas to 19,000 refugees on Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs) and Safe Haven Enterprise Visas (SHEVs), there are still thousands of other refugees who still need to be a promise of permanent visas. This includes 10,000 people rejected under the Coalition’s unfair fast-track processing system, including many now threatened with deportation, another 150 refugees still stranded on Nauru and PNG, and 1,200 Medevac refugees and families from Nauru who are now in Australia but have been told they cannot stay. Many have already been here for five or more years, and have partners, jobs and lives here.”

Ben Pfisterer, CEO and co-founder at Zeller

“This year’s Federal Budget played it safe for SMEs and startups. Through Zeller’s research conducted with our customer base of over 30,000 Australian businesses, we understand that many are hurting. 30% of businesses are being faced with declining customer spend, while 40% have seen increased costs of supplies. With the pressure of inflation impacting both the top and bottom lines of small businesses, anything the Federal Government can do to put money back in their pockets and support those who are taking on the burden of running a small business through challenging times is eagerly welcomed.

“It is positive to see the extension of the $20,000 instant asset write-off for small business, which many had expected to come to an end. Enabling small business owners to write off the cost of assets invested in growing their business — be it tools to improve efficiency or operations such as a new coffee machine or equipment for their bar, or technology to help them reduce cost and improve cash flow like a Zeller Terminal — this scheme provides an immediate cash flow benefit to business owners. 

“The $392 million Industry Growth Program is also a positive announcement, and has the ability to support SMEs and startups in commercialising their ideas. To ensure the success of this program, funding needs to be directed toward new and creative entrepreneurs who are taking opportunities to think outside of the box and solve some of the biggest challenges in Australia such as renewable energy and medical technology. This program will not attract its desired outcome if the funding is funnelled into established or longstanding organisations who carry a much lower appetite for risk. 

“For startups and early stage entrepreneurs, this year’s budget also flags up to a 40 per cent increase in costs associated with visa applications, which risks stifling the recovery of Australia’s international talent pool who support our technology sector. Our Australian startup ecosystem’s ability to attract international talent was put on hold through border lockdowns as a result of the COVID-19 crisis; and our ability to attract and re-build this international talent pool may be challenged by increasing costs associated with bringing in and retaining tech talent — such as engineers, or product managers — within Australia’s growing startup ecosystem. Now is a time that Australia should be removing all barriers to entry to attract the world’s best tech talent, not adding new barriers through increased operational costs and visa charges.” 

Noel Derwort, Defence General Manager, Noetic

“The merging of in excess of $100 million in the budget and the National Quantum Strategy is a clear sign of the importance of Quantum computing to the Government and the Nation as a whole. While Australia is already recognised among the global leaders in this hotly contested field, the focus and support is welcome if we are to maintain our place in an environment where other Governments are increasing funding. If even a small percentage of Quantum capabilities are realised the implications will be significant.”

Pieter Danhieux, Co-Founder and CEO of Secure Code Warrior

“With the sustained focus on emerging dominant technologies like AI and quantum computing – not to mention the increased cyber risk brought on by their use in the wrong hands – it is refreshing to see that the Albanese Government has thrown support behind their development in the form of funding in the latest Federal Budget. As it stands, according to the National Cyber Security Index (NCSI), Australia ranks at number 40 in terms of our government-implemented cybersecurity capacities. This lags behind some developing nations, as well as the pace of our own adoption of the latest technology at both the business and individual levels.

“Over the past few years, funding has been focused on protecting critical infrastructure, defending against cyber conflict and nation-state attacks, and enhancing our security intelligence and cyber offense capabilities. While these are all crucial areas, it’s also necessary to expand our defense efforts to cover enterprises and SMBs, particularly those who are creating or utilising sensitive software. Funding for the small business Cyber Wardens program via the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA) is a step in the right direction, with up to 50,000 Cyber Wardens set to be trained in the next few years. I do wonder, however, how much of this program will involve tackling code-level vulnerabilities and filling security knowledge gaps in development teams across the country.

“Overall, to remain competitive, we must also invest in developing our homegrown solutions and talent. To that end, it has been incredibly disappointing to observe organisations like AustCyber – once a strong pillar of Australia’s cybersecurity community – slowly transform into something ineffectual, with little to no influence on the industry at large. The recent closure of the Cyrise Accelerator program is also a worrying sign for the future of our cybersecurity startups. With proper funding, our cyber capabilities can rival those of the top players in the industry, yet the government appears to be letting us rot on the vine. It is simply baffling in the wake of our worst year on record for cyberattacks.”

Beau Bertoli, co-founder and chief revenue officer at Prospa

“With Australian small business owners struggling to navigate the harshest cost of living crisis in decades, yesterday’s budget will relieve those SMEs forced to live month-by-month. The government’s decision to deduct up to $20,000 in tax for SMEs investing in energy-efficient equipment, combined with the announcement of energy rebates for over one million SMEs, will also offset the forecasted electricity and gas price spikes of 5 to 18 per cent.

“The temporary increase to the $20,000 instant asset write-off threshold is a welcome measure for Aussie small businesses, enabling them to reinvest in their businesses and grow. However, the government will need to do more to ensure the small business community has the resources it needs not only to survive, but thrive in today’s climate. According to Prospa commissioned research, 84 per cent of business owners said they were expecting major challenges over the next 12 months, driven by increased operating costs (42%), higher inflation (35%) and increased costs of freight and transport due to rising fuel costs (30%).

“It’s pleasing to see the government’s commitment to bolster SMEs in-house capabilities to protect their businesses from cyberattacks. By investing in the resilience of our small business sector, we can help ensure their continued success and contribution to the Australian economy.”

David Lenz, Vice President, Asia Pacific, Arcserve

“Cybersecurity remains a paramount concern for Australian SMEs today, and we applaud the Government’s targeted efforts to enhance cyber resilience in the 2023-2024 Budget. The small business Cyber Wardens program, encompassing in-house training, will upskill the nation’s small business workforce and their cyber safety knowledge. As cyber criminals relentlessly target organisations of all sizes, businesses must protect their data and allocate resources effectively. The small business instant asset write-off will support the establishment of comprehensive disaster recovery plans and help address the ongoing skills shortage in the cybersecurity field, enabling organisations to secure their data with the necessary expertise.

“We commend the Government for its allocation in supporting the development and uptake of critical technology such as AI. AI is widely anticipated to revolutionise how businesses and society function, and this targeted support for emerging technologies will ensure Australia’s digital economy remains competitive. However, as we embrace the potential benefits of AI, we must recognize the accompanying security challenges. Advanced AI systems, such as ChatGPT, can inadvertently increase vulnerabilities by empowering cyber criminals lacking coding experience to develop and deploy malicious software, thereby expanding the attack surface. It is vital that governance becomes a key focus for the National AI Centre to mitigate these risks as we collectively work towards AI’s ethical and responsible use.

“In the interim, SMEs must remain vigilant in addressing the risks posed by the current threat landscape and advanced AI systems. A data resilience plan delineates the steps a company should take to protect its critical data and systems and the procedures for restoring normal operations efficiently and promptly in the event of a data breach. This plan also offers a blueprint for responding to cyber threats, including detailed guidelines for securing systems, backing up data, and engaging with stakeholders during and after an incident. By implementing a data resilience plan, businesses can minimise the impact of cyber threats and reduce their risk of data loss, thereby safeguarding their organisation’s ongoing success and survival.”

Joseph Lyons, Managing Director – APAC, Xero

“While Xero welcomes the Federal Budget announcements that seek to address the elevated cost of living and support Australia’s small businesses, more needs to be done to drive productivity and digitalisation. 

“By introducing measures like the Small Business Energy Incentive, the Government is using its balance sheet to lower operational costs for small businesses by incentivising the adoption of energy efficiency practices – a positive but short-term solution to address inflationary pressures.

“The Government needs to prioritise rolling out measures to increase small business innovation to unlock more efficient processes, driving ongoing productivity long term.

“Xero looks forward to working with the Government to explore initiatives to drive productivity – working collaboratively to make life easier for the 2.5 million small businesses across Australia.” 

Laura Hill, Australian Managing Director, Sendle

“We welcome both the government’s Small Business Energy Incentive scheme along with its Energy Efficiency Grants. Small businesses are central to the prosperity and long term success of Australia, and we must continue to invest in this ecosystem. The additional support announced tonight will enable SMEs to reduce their bills during this challenging time while investing in greener business practices that will help preserve our environment for future generations.

“At the same time, high-interest rates and record inflation continues to be a top concern for Australian small businesses. More than half of our small business customers said in a recent survey that the rising costs of products and services was their biggest challenge heading into 2023. We believe more can be done to support small businesses in this current climate and would like to see more policies to help them survive these uncertain times.  

“When it comes to parcel delivery in particular, we believe the time has come to open up Australia Post’s national infrastructure to private enterprise and reduce the burden on Australian taxpayers. Not only will this lead to fairer competition and greater innovation, it will ultimately result in greater choice, improved services and experiences for Australian small businesses. 

Aline Van Koninckxloo, Head of People, Stake

“Australia’s low parental leave allowances cause strain on millions of families, so it’s right that the government is going ahead with increased childcare subsidies from July.  However, exorbitant childcare costs mean it remains financially impractical for many parents to return to work. In Australia, women still take on the vast majority of childcare responsibilities, and this means they disproportionately pay the price by pausing their careers, subsequently missing out on growth opportunities, income and superannuation.

“While the extended paid parental leave scheme is a positive move, the private sector still needs to play its part in supporting working families. In a tight labour market, it’s likely we’ll see more businesses offering parental leave and childcare benefits, as they look to attract and keep the best talent.”

Tony Yammine, Co-Founder and CEO, Avarni

“Following the Federal Budget announcement, Treasurer Jim Chalmers focussed on Australia’s role in the zero emissions economy of the future. To support the government’s target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43 per cent by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions by 2050, Australian climate-tech startup founders need more initiatives from the Federal Government that drive innovation and creative ideas across the sector. The startup sector doesn’t expect handouts, but there are multiple ways we could reshape the sector. An example is in the form of a HECS-style loan scheme for university students that would promote participation in university-run accelerators, generating future job opportunities and increasing our local tech talent pool.

“We’ve watched first-hand how successful government programs can greatly assist early-stage funding, from Green Innoboost in Morocco and India’s Seed Support System, two programs offering grant recipients access to government agency-established bank accounts to monitor spending, recover unspent funds and assist with securing future government contributions. We need the Australian government to take cues from our international counterparts by shifting entrenched views that startups are risky beneficiaries of capital, instead embracing the opportunities for innovation by giving tech startups the runway to move forward.  

“If changes to the startup ecosystem don’t occur and we don’t adjust the way we fund emerging technology, founders, we leave early-stage companies at risk of exhausting their funds, something that’s never too far away in the high-risk, high-return venture capital investment model. While we can take examples from our international partners, we need a uniquely Australian response that reflects the attitudes and needs of local entrepreneurs. Whether it be capital required for expansion, office spaces, R&D, to secure procurement contracts, or the later stages of company growth and development, a funding response that prioritises innovation is now critical.” 

Jack Curtis, CCO, Neara

“Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ announcement of allocating $4 billion to realising Australia’s future as a renewable energy superpower brings the government’s total investment to more than $40 billion. Undoubtedly, Australia is making positive steps towards harnessing the country’s clean energy potential. We’ve made ambitious commitments to propel the clean energy transition forward, but we still need to follow through on the execution, which has a high degree of difficulty attached to it. Furthermore, the current investment in renewables is unlikely to be sufficient to to fill the looming gap left by closing coal-fired plants. With Liddell’s recent closure, the urgency to fill potential energy gaps should be top of mind for public and private bodies. Yet despite taking positive steps forward, we see a lag in project timelines, leaving the energy system in a precarious position as coal plants continue to retire 

“For the better part of a decade, the public and private sector have been aligning on clean energy goals, but the question now becomes — how do we get there? These goals are realistic if we see a major shift in the network’s optimisation and electricity delivery to consumers. This requires identifying more capacity within existing networks, while simultaneously investing in new infrastructure projects in a cost and time efficient manner. Disruptive technology will be required to bring both to fruition. We cannot rely on the toolkits of the past, particularly given the macro climate has become even more challenging.

“The government is seeking to repair cost of living pressures, battle rising inflation and provide electricity relief to Australian consumers, but the latter cannot be reliant on renewable projects alone. Optimising the entire ecosystem of how electricity is used is key to reaching the nation’s net-zero targets. The government has the power to entirely re-shape Australia’s future in the global energy transition. It starts with investing in the technology needed and driving real policy change to create a holistic set of solutions that address the entire energy lifecycle.” 

Gabriella Nunes, Senior Manager of Entrepreneurship, UNSW

“Following the Treasurer’s announcement of a $4 billion investment in Australia’s plan to become a renewable energy superpower, it’s great to see our government taking a positive step forward in addressing our nation’s move towards Net Zero. Decarbonising the planet requires a multifaceted approach involving a combination of innovation, collaboration and game-changing technology. To achieve this goal, we must firstly wrap the right skills, networks and investment capital around the next generation of entrepreneurs – to scale their solutions rapidly.  Providing this fertile breeding ground means we’re fast tracking commercially viable solutions to address our carbon emitting economy.

Part of this radical collaboration starts at the foundations laid by our universities. At UNSW Founders, we are heavily focused on climate and sustainability research and commercialisation to ensure our next generation of startups are the perfect vehicle for the new technologies, workforce and capital that Australia’s economic transition to Net Zero requires. The creation of the Net Zero Authority is a powerful new signal of Australian Government demand for solutions that will turn Australia into a renewable energy powerhouse, and yesterday’s Budget announcement goes a long way in assisting this.”

 Stavros Yallouridis, CEO, Motor Traders’ Association NSW

“The automotive sector is a crucial driver of the economy and as our industry undergoes a once-in-a-century transformation towards electric vehicles, we are urging the Federal Government to acknowledge the critical role our industry will play in this transition.

“While we are encouraged by the Federal Government’s commitment in the budget toward electric vehicles and their investment in a national charging infrastructure along with the training of our emergency service workers, we are disappointed that our workforce has not been identified for any funding to put towards training the thousands of auto workers who will need to be upskilled to safely and effectively handle and repair EVs. 

“The transition to electric vehicles will be challenging for the small businesses that make up our auto industry as they are already operating on very thin margins and a significant amount of capital investment is required in retooling, purchasing charging infrastructure and the upskilling of their employees.  

“Our industry is currently facing a shortfall of approximately 38,000 skilled professionals, and this shortage is only going to be exacerbated with the rollout of EVs without the government putting their hand in their pocket, our industry is going to be left severely underprepared to meet 2030 targets.

“The current electric vehicle targets need key steps that could actually see Australia go backwards. To increase EV adoption without accelerating the training required to safely service these vehicles, our transition will not work.  

“While we are supportive of the funding allocated to improve completion rates in the automotive sector, our model is already aligned with this objective and we are working closely with the Australian Apprenticeship Support Networks to deliver better outcomes across our training but there is a fundamental flaw in the reliance on TAFE, where some apprentices are waiting 6-12 months to be signed up.  Private RTOs and GTOs need additional funding to be able to better complement TAFE to ensure improved outcomes across the board.”

Pete Murray, MD, Veritas Technologies

“While it’s important and worthy of praise to see the government draw some attention to privacy and the threat of national security through the activation of the National Reconstruction Fund to build our nation’s cyber resilience, Veritas believes that it is critical to include more funding towards packages that close the transformation and resiliency gaps in Australia. 

“With more digital attacks expected to be faced not only for the government, but also the average individual, it is more critical than ever to have multiple lines of defense in place that secure Australians online data; developing proactive, rather than reactive cyber security strategies.

“Businesses of all sizes must have support in order to implement ransomware resiliency plans to protect sensitive data better effectively. The public and private sector need to work together so that businesses are better placed for quick detection, mitigation and an even quicker recovery from online threats in today’s complex multi-cloud environment.”

Jason Duerden, Regional Director, ANZ, SentinelOne

“The $46.5 million funding package for Australia’s new national cybersecurity office, including the allocation of $23.4 million for small businesses to bolster their cyber capability, is a necessary investment in uplifting Australia’s cybersecurity and protecting our economy.

‘The true threat to Australia’s economy from cyber-attacks lies not only in the major corporations that can overcome a breach, but in the goods and services, economic contributions and livelihoods that would be lost if the micro-business and SMEs that comprise the bulk of our economy were to shutter. 

“It is also encouraging to see the Federal Government delivering its commitment from the Jobs and Skills Summit to improve access to digital training and apprenticeships for Australians and address long-term structural issues in the industry.

“Including cybersecurity-specific accreditations in the mix will equip students and the future workforce with the skills Australia needs to successfully deliver a strong cybersecurity strategy.”

David Hayes, Regional Director ANZ, Arctic Wolf

“With two-thirds of businesses having experienced a security breach in the last year according to our ANZ Cybersecurity Survey, it’s clear that cybersecurity is a national concern and priority. As SMEs continue to feel more pressure from the current macroeconomic environment, threat actors recognise that this is the perfect time to strike.

“The government’s $46.5 million funding package for Australia’s new national cybersecurity office, including $23.4 million over three years for a small business cyber wardens program, comes at a critical time to support SMEs in building their resilience against cyber threats. Since these types of incidents can significantly impact businesses through a financial, reputational, and regulatory lens, seeing a stronger relationship between the public and private sector is more critical than ever.”

Murray Mills, Head of Cyber Security, Tecala

It is encouraging to see the Government allocating $86.5 million to establish a National Anti-Scam Centre, boost ASIC’s work to disrupt investment scam websites and establish Australia’s first SMS Sender ID Registry to prevent scammers imitating trusted brand names.  SMS scammers and their impact on citizens losing life savings from these SMS scams are out of control.  With this initiative, the government can now increase security around the critical service providers, ensuring that we are less likely to encounter the SMS scams we currently endure. We look forward to this being just the start and seeing this service expanding to all critical services.

“With all the recent compromises of our data, examples such as Medibank and Latitude Financial, our data and personal identity is under attack.  In many cases, the organisations in charge of our data are keeping it longer than required and therefore increasing the magnitude of the breach itself. The government initiatives announced in this budget are the first steps to centralising our identity and reducing the requirement to enter so much of our personal data into many organisations. I am looking forward to this being expanded once proven to all services so that individual companies no longer possess our sensitive data.  Indeed, the government’s investment of $26.9 million in 2023-24 to expand Digital ID will help to increase efficiency and consumer protection, reduce fraud, and make it easier for people to access services online.”

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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