Australia has set out a plan for protecting and promoting critical technologies in its national interest.
Prime minister Scott Morrison detailed to an Australian Strategic Policy Institute forum on Wednesday a new Blueprint for Critical Technologies looking to weigh up economic opportunities of critical technologies and national security risk.
Quantum technologies are the initial focus of the plan, with Morrison announcing $70 million for a Quantum Commercialisation Hub over the next decade.
Australia’s chief scientist, Cathy Foley, is to lead the development of Australia’s National Quantum Strategy.
“Nations at the leading edge of technology have greater economic, political and military power. And, in turn, greater capacity to influence the norms and values that will shape technological development in the years to come,” Morrison told the forum.
“Nowhere is this more powerfully illustrated than in the Indo-Pacific region — the world’s strategic centre of gravity.
“Australia knows that our future security and prosperity depends on us being part of the technological revolution shaping the world.”
The Blueprint aims to secure access and choice of critical technologies, promote Australia as a trusted and secure partner for investment and collaboration, protect the sovereignty of Australia’s intellectual property, and support regional resilience.
An action plan and a list of 63 critical technologies accompany the blueprint, with an initial focus on nine technologies.
The Quantum Commercialisation Hub will commercialise Australia’s quantum research and create links with global markets and supply chains. The government is tipping that quantum technologies can deliver Australia $4 billion in economic value, and 16,000 new jobs by 2040.
“The Hub will be designed to attract private co-investment and to partner with equivalent bodies among like-minded nations,” Morrison said.
“The first step is a joint cooperation agreement which the Government has signed with the United States. And we’re looking forward to working with other countries, too.”
He said the government wanted technology to protect citizens’ autonomy, privacy and data.
“Australia … is committed to playing our part so that rules and norms around technology reflect the values of our open societies.”
Meanwhile, the government is also investing $10 million in innovative artificial intelligence technologies to strengthen defence’s military capability and support highly skilled jobs in Australia’s defence industry.
AI is another of the AI nine listed critical technologies from the government’s plan.
Defence industry minister Melissa Price announced the 10 new contracts on Thursday, spread across NSW, Victorian and South Australian businesses and ranging from $1.9 million to $464,000.