Australian PM Pitches Digital Economic Recovery

Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.
October 20, 2020Updated: October 21, 2020

Scott Morrison wants Australia to become one of the world’s leading digital economies within the next 10 years.

The prime minister says consumers and businesses have adopted to online technologies at warp speed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He wants to springboard off the health and economic crisis to drag the country out of recession.

“Our challenge is to keep the foot on the digital accelerator, as we emerge on the other side of this pandemic,” Morrison will tell a virtual e-commerce summit on Oct. 21.

“Whilst we can marvel at the innovation and the digital acceleration, the bigger picture is that our economy has taken a massive hit.

“So we have two stories happening simultaneously in Australia—an economy that is experiencing the worst set of economic circumstances since the Great Depression, and ferocious adaptation that businesses have engaged in to keep these circumstances at bay.”

Businesses were quick to reshape their operations when the pandemic swept Australia.

One in four changed their delivery models within the first three weeks and almost a third expanded their online presence.

Nearly nine in 10 Australian companies embraced new technologies.

“As businesses went online, customers followed,” Morrison will say.

Australia Post delivered 26 million extra parcels between March and May, an average of two million each day.

In April alone, 5.2 million Australian households bought something online, and more than 200,000 were doing so for the first time.

Online sales soared above $3 billion in August, an 81 percent increase on the previous year.

The prime minister is putting upgrades to the national broadband network and investments in 5G technologies at the centre of his pitch.

He is also focused on digital regulations, cyber security, open banking and consumer data rights.

“The digital economy is central to creating the jobs that Australia needs,” Morrison will say.

“It is not only individuals who have to prepare for such change—every Australian business must grasp what is before us.”

By Daniel McCulloch