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Big Budget Push For Cyber-Security, Overseas GST Drive

Huge spending on cyber-security, introduction of GST on small online purchases from overseas vendors, and a push for e-invoicing by government departments are among the measures unveiled by Treasurer Scott Morrison last night in the 2016-17 Budget.

The cyber-security package was one of the biggest revealed by Morrison, with spending estimated at $230 million. This will include $2.7 million for establishment of a globetrotting “cyber ambassador” – exact duties yet to be defined;  and $36.4 million to assist the Australian Federal Police and Australian Crime Commission in their fight against online crime.

Some $38.8 million will be spent moving the Australian Cyber Security Centre from its current home in ASIO’s Canberra HQ, while $12.3 million is being set aside to assess vulnerabilities in government systems and $3.5 million will go towards establishment of more cyber security educational institutions.

The Department of Education will establish six “academic centres of cyber security excellence” for a cost of AU$3.5 million.

Morrison said the package, developed in response to a recent cyber security review, would also feature public-private partnerships “to back Australian businesses to develop and promote their cyber security capabilities globally”. Maybe the cyber ambassador can help.

On a move already under way to crack down on tax avoidance by large overseas corporations  – including a number in the IT industry – Morrison said the Australian Taxation Office will receive an extra $679 million to hire 390 staff to form part of a 1000-person team to monitor large companies.

The Government will also introduce a UK-style “diverted profits tax” which will penalise multinationals found to be shifting income offshore with a boosted tax rate of 40 percent.

The ATO will target companies with global revenues above $1 billion and where the ATO believes it is “reasonable to conclude” its corporate structure has been designed to secure a tax cut. Companies booking less than $25 million a year in Australia will be exempt.

On extending GST to low-value goods imported by consumers, the Government estimates measures to be introduced will bring in around $300 million over four years. Previously, sub-$1000 online purchases were exempt.

Overseas suppliers with an Australian turnover of A$75,000 or more will be required to register for, collect and remit the GST, though it’s unclear how the Government will enforce this.

Some other tech-related items in last night’s budget included:

– Extra funding – actual amount not revealed due to “commercial-in-confidence” terms – to improve the Bureau of Meteorology’s supercomputer data and services;

– Some $2.4 million over two years from 2016-17 to bring forward the opening of so-called IT “landing pads” for emerging Australian tech-oriented companies in Singapore and Berlin;

– A total of $50.5 million over five years to enable the Department of Human Services and the Digital Transformation Office (DTO) to support operations of the “myGov” online information service; and

– Some $32.6 million to the second phase of the Australian Federal Police’s new datacentre strategy.

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