Published: Fri, May 11, 2018
Markets | By Erika Turner

STEM and infrastructure two standouts in the 2018 budget

STEM and infrastructure two standouts in the 2018 budget

Another measure contained within the Australian Technology and Science Growth Plan is $160 million to improve satellite (GPS) navigation in the bush. Funds have been earmarked for blockchain research alongside broader digital initiatives.

In a press release titled "Federal Budget provides little relief for Australia's motorists", the AAA went on the front foot, denouncing the government for allowing road infrastructure investment to decline "by nearly $2 billion over the forward estimates", relative to the forward estimates of the previous budget.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning will also get a boost, with the Government allocating $29.9 million over four years to strengthening Australia's capability in the field, and $100,000 would be used to promote Australia's fintech sector to the world.

"That was nearly two years ago, and as this Budget shows, the Government is yet to take up the opportunity to come up with any meaningful policy initiatives or plan for our industry or the creative industries more broadly".

While all four papers deal at length with digital aspects and implications of Australia's economy papers, the second and fourth specifically mention blockchain technology.

The Budget didn't speak much to National Broadband Network, apart from to reiterate that it would be about 75 percent complete by the end of 2018 and was on track to be completed by 2020.

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"The small business entity turnover threshold has also been lifted from $2 million to $10 million, which has extended access to a range of small business tax concessions", the Budget read.

The government is continuing to invest in supercomputing, including upgrading two supercomputers with total funding of $140 million for the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Perth and the National Computational Infrastructure facility at the Australian National University.

A 10-year $1.3 billion National Health and Medical Industry Growth Plan, supported by proceeds from the Medical Research Future Fund.

The MRFF will give $240 million to the Frontier Health and Medical Research Program to support new ideas and discoveries, and A$125 million for research into chronic conditions with a focus on diabetes and heart disease.

The road map pointed to the need to modernize the Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong for its research supporting the livestock industry and for studies of emerging diseases that affect humans. According to an analysis by PwC, this runs contrary to recommendations made by Chair of Innovation Australia Bill Ferris, Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel and Secretary to the Treasury John Fraser in the 2017 R&D Tax Incentive Review.

$125 million for the Million Minds Mental Health Research Mission to support more research and better diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. In coming years, the genomics program will create personalised medicines by tailoring drugs to patients, improve the prevention and control of disease by enabling specific screening, and increase awareness of the susceptibility of individuals to disease.

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