Budget 2018 promises growth in technology investments

Treasurer Scott Morrison yesterday delivered the federal budget 2018, which promises to help businesses through lower taxes, investments in science and technology and infrastructure developments.

The Government continues its plan to reduce tax burden for firms with more than $50m turnover per annum. As part of its ten Year Enterprise Tax Plan started in 2016-17, the government has legislated tax cuts for around 3.3 million small and medium Australian businesses employing 6.8 million workers with annual turnover up to $50 million.

Small businesses will also benefit from the government extending the $20,000 instant asset write–off for a further 12 months to 30 June 2019. These businesses will now have additional opportunities to reinvest in their business and replace or upgrade their assets.

Investments in research, science and technology capabilities will get a boost as the government has projected investing around $2.4 billion over 12 years.

A $1.9 billion investment in research infrastructure over 12 years will support critical national research infrastructure. Investments will be guided by the National Research Infrastructure Roadmap, developed by Australia’s chief scientist, and will require co-investment by industry and other institutions.

Infrastructure development is a focal point in the Budget 2018, with the government committing $24.5 billion in new projects and initiatives in all states and territories. These form part of the government’s $75 billion transport infrastructure investment over the next decade.

As part of this, the government has pledged a 50% share in a Western Sydney airport rail link, Melbourne airport rail, Monash rail link and finishing the Melbourne ring road, Metronet in Perth, Queensland roads and Adelaide road and rail spending and a congestion fund to address hot spots.

Medical research is also a centrepiece of the Budget, with a new $1.3 billion National Health and Medical Industry Growth Plan that will play to Australia’s strengths in medical science and technology.

This plan includes a 10-year $500 million Genomic Health Futures Mission to develop ‘precision medicine’ approaches to a wide range of diseases.

It also includes 10-year investments of $248 million for rare cancers and diseases and $125 million for the Million Minds Mental Health Research Mission to support more research and better diagnosis and treatment of mental illness.

A further $707 million in funding from the Medical Research Future Fund will be provided to support the Frontier Health and Medical Research program, expanded clinical trials, Biomedtech programs and Industry Researcher Collaborations.

The Budget also includes a $41 million space agency and investment program, $4.5 million in new measures to encourage girls and women to pursue STEM education and careers, and a $29.9 million research initiative on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.