Some Pickings, Many Gaps For Technology In Scomo’s Budget
The technology sector scored a modest portion of the Turnbull Government’s 2018-19 Budget, as enunciated last night by Treasurer Scott Morrison. There was certainly money to set up Australia’s long-awaited space agency and give a kickstart to the planned upgrade of the Snowy Hydro scheme.
“The Government will invest more than AU$2.4 billion in Australia’s public technology infrastructure,” Treasurer Scott Morrison said in his Budget speech on Tuesday night.
“This includes supercomputers, world-class satellite imagery, more accurate GPS across Australia, upgrading the Bureau of Meteorology’s technology platform, a national space agency, and leading research in artificial intelligence.”
Sounds reasonable, but the amounts involved in many cases are not huge and will be spent over some years.
For instance, Morrison said the Government will invest $29.9 million on artificial intelligence and machine learning. But that will spent over four years and has to support initiatives in digital health, digital agriculture, cybersecurity, energy, and mining.
The supercomputing mention refers to the new Pawsey supercomputing centre in Perth. Morrison said this investment will see Australia doubling its investment in supercomputing infrastructure to $70 million.
Satellite navigation is an interesting one. The Government says it will provide $160.9 million over four years from 2018-19 (and $39.2 million in ongoing funding from 2022-23) to improve the accuracy, integrity and availability of GPS satellite navigation.
This should provide positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) data with an accuracy of 3-5 centimetres to regional and metropolitan areas. Among other things this should enable self-steering machinery on farms, mining and construction sites, and future automated transport.
The proposed National Space Agency gets $41 million over four years, including $15 million for grants to “strategic space projects that generate employment and business opportunities for Australians.”
Malcolm Turnbull’s favourite proposal – upgrading the Snowy Hydro scheme to help deal with the expected decline in coal-powered energy – scores a hefty $225 million over four years, along with $6.3 billion to acquire NSW and Victoria’s share of the existing facility.