Federal Budget 2024: 14 Interesting Tech Investments You Might Have Missed

Federal Budget 2024: 14 Interesting Tech Investments You Might Have Missed

The 2024 Australian Federal Budget was announced this evening with a range of investments in technology including quantum computing, electric vehicles and our old faithful, the NBN. 

But scoring through the hundreds and hundreds of pages you sometimes stumble on some gold, and dear reader we’ve found some technological nuggets that you might find interesting. 

These aren’t necessarily completely technology focused but I’d say they are technology adjacent. But regardless of their relation to technology, they’re interesting enough where I went “huh”. 

From nuclear submarines to espionage, here are some of the most interesting announcements from the 2024 Federal Budget. 

We all live in a Nuclear Submarine

If you were crossing your fingers for nuclear submarines to be covered in the budget, then today is your day. 

The federal government will provide $101.8 million over seven years from 2024–25 to attract and retain the Australian industrial workforce required to support the delivery of what the federal government calls “Australia’s conventionally-armed nuclear-powered submarines.”

This includes initiatives delivered through the Skills and Training Academy, such as a pilot apprenticeship program in trades required to support the nuclear-powered submarine enterprise. It will also support scholarships for students studying relevant undergraduate STEM courses.

Protection from the Bad Guys

The bad guys on the internet are real and they want your data, but don’t worry the government wants to do something about it! 

The federal government will provide $4.2 million over four years to establish a Technology Foreign Interference Taskforce, led by the Department of Home Affairs, to work with Australia’s technology sector to protect sensitive and proprietary information from espionage, sabotage, and foreign interference.

Faster Mobile Internet for Hornsby and Wyong Commuters

In this year’s budget, the federal government has an entire section dedicated to Western Sydney as it is committed to “unlocking the economic potential” of that region. 

Interestingly, if you are someone who catches the train between Hornsby and Wyong and have had some appalling internet, don’t worry boo, the federal government has you covered!

The Australian government said in this year’s budget it is providing funding for mobile and internet connectivity along the train route between Hornsby and Wyong.

Sydney, Australia, October 14, 2021- People come in and out through Hornsby Station. Image: iStock

Better Help to Quit Vaping

Want to quit vaping or smoking? The federal government is funding an undisclosed amount to  scale-up state Quitline capacity and quit services to support increased demand through additional workforce, training for Quitline counsellors, and enhanced use of technology. 

This will enable equitable access to smoking and vaping cessation advice and support regardless of location, including through minimum hours of operation

What enhanced use of technology is, I don’t know, but good to know it is supporting Quitline. 

The Power of Bluey

It seems as if beloved kids (and adults) TV show Bluey has impacted the budget with the federal government dropping $14.5 million to support the production of Australian children’s screen content. 

The government said it “recognises the importance of Australian children seeing themselves reflected in the stories they watch, no matter which platform they watch it on”.

Keep MyGov Contemporary

The federal government wants to ensure the current myGov accounts remain “contemporary, secure,and fit for purpose” by dropping half a billion dollars (yes, billion) to keep the myGov platform modern AF. 

Hopefully, this $580.3 million investment includes a complete rebrand and makeover of the website. 

A further $50.0 million will also improve the usability, safety and security of the myGov platform and ensure Services Australia can support people to protect their information and privacy.

Safer sports fundraising platforms

The federal government wants to ensure the Australian Sports Foundation has a safer system. The Australian Sports Foundation is one of Australia’s leading nonprofit sports fundraising body.

It is investing $8.0 million over three years from 2024–25 to support the Australian Sports Foundation to complete technology upgrades, including enhancement of cyber security for the fundraising platform. 

Hydrogen skills get the dollar bills 

This federal budget has had a major renewable energy focus and being ‘Future Made’. One renewable energy that was mentioned was hydrogen. 

The government has promised a $6.7 billion production tax incentive for the production of renewable hydrogen. 

But not only that, but it has also pledged a $10.0 million investment in 2025–26 to establish a National Hydrogen Technology Skills Training Centre. 

This centre is in partnership with the Victorian Government, to promote hydrogen workforce development to support the skilled workforce needs of the growing domestic hydrogen industry.

See more Hydrogen investment. Image: iStock

Continued support to AAP

A nice $12 million investment to the “financial sustainability” of the Australian Associated Press for the next financial year. 

Good to see Australian journalism being supported. 

Digital plant scanners 

Biosecurity is important to Australia, we are an island with rare and unique flora and fauna, if a foreign plant or species hits our shores, well that could be bad. 

The federal government knows this and is investing $16.9 million over four years to ensure the biosecurity integrity of Australia through investing in specialist technology and equipment at Sydney’s new international airport. 

Currently under construction, Western Sydney International Airport will be fitted out with specialist screening and biosecurity risk detection equipment and scientific diagnostic equipment to support biosecurity officers and detector dogs to continue to keep Australia free from exotic pests and diseases.

Further enhancements to NCIS (not the show, sadly)

The National Criminal Intelligence System (NCIS) will receive $109.9 million to enhance the system and improve information-sharing nationally to allow for better law enforcement responses to criminal activity.

The NCIS provides law enforcement officers across Australia with real-time access to cross-border policing information and criminal intelligence.

The NCIS provides opportunities to enhance the safety of women and children by providing police officers with access to key information from multiple agencies and systems on a single national database, allowing them to see relevant risk information such as domestic and family violence orders or outstanding warrants.

This system enables front-line officers to access the information they need, when they need it, to address and prevent criminal activity.

Monitoring Earth

The federal government is working with the U.S. to monitor the Earth more closely. 

The Albanese government will provide $448.7 million to partner with the U.S. in the Landsat Next satellite program to provide access to critical data to monitor the earth’s climate, agricultural production, and natural disasters. 

It will also provide $145.4 million for the National Measurement Institute to support its core scientific capabilities. 

R&D Deep Dive

The federal government has acknowledged the importance of investing in research and development (R&D). So much so that it will now commission a “strategic examination” of Australia’s R&D system. 

This examination will determine how we can get more value from every taxpayer dollar invested in research, maximise the contribution of science and R&D to the broader economy, and maintain our competitive edge.

I am a woman in STEM!

To continue the growth in the STEM industry and ensure women want to work and continue to work in STEM, the federal government will invest $38.2 million in its response to the Pathway to Diversity in STEM Review.

The budget papers note this investment will scale up the government’s Women in STEM programs and science engagement programs that are “driving positive change to attract and retain more people from diverse backgrounds in STEM education and careers.”

The measures in the 2024-25 Budget build on Government investments that will shape and strengthen Australia’s future, including the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund Corporation and the $392 million Industry Growth Program.

These measures support Australian know-how, Australian businesses and new jobs – including for women and people from diverse backgrounds.

They will position Australia to build a Future Made in Australia to maximise the economic and industrial benefits of the move to net zero and secure our place in a changing global economic and strategic landscape.

Image: ABC/SA Defence

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