I looked for the cybersecurity items in the budget so you don’t have to.
I replied in my corresponding message when last year’s budget was released that:
“This budget (2021) continues the historic trend of spending a significant amount on national security, including cybersecurity, but with the bulk of the money going to the government’s own departments.”
Not only has the government continued the pattern this year, they have significantly increased the amount funneled into the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) in the name of national security and the heightened cyber threat landscape through REDSPICE†
In more tangible terms, the ASD is expected to at least double in size and triple its offensive cyber capabilities.
i did too call last year Which:
“We cannot be cyber-resilient as a country without a stronger ecosystem, which includes businesses of all sizes, as well as a healthy amount of sovereign capacity in the form of technology and solution providers.”
This has been addressed somewhat this year, but pales in comparison to spending on our government’s own capabilities.
I have to be honest and point out that about half of the amount spent on REDSPICE is reportedly going to “opportunities for Australian industry, including Australian small and medium-sized enterprises”.
The REDSPICE blueprint does state that this includes software, technology and services. So let’s hope this is well balanced.
In the past, this was weighed extremely heavily toward professional services, meaning a lot of sovereign innovation was left on the sidelines when it came to helping protect our national cyber interests.
In addition to the mountain of money going to ASD, $1.55 billion will go toward the incorporation of digital technology and skills/training for companies with annual revenues of less than $50 million. From a technology startup point of view, this is remarkable.
For instance, avertro falls into this category, so we should see some financial benefits as a result.
Oddly enough, they have capped the amount to be claimed for technology to $100,000 per year.
For a company making $50 million a year, the cap is a pitiful 0.2% of that number, which is far less than a company of that size is likely to spend on technology. The percentage is of course higher for a much smaller company. In other words, this will mainly benefit smaller companies. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. Just point to the facts.
There appears to be no cap on skills and training spending, despite only being half the budgeted amount compared to the $1 billion allocated to technology. I suspect the forecasts didn’t expect companies to spend nearly as much on skills and training as they do on digital technologies.
Two final notes on the $1.55 billion I just mentioned:
- Eligible expenses incurred from now through the end of FY22 can only be claimed in FY23. ie next financial year.
- The amount allocated is not specific to cyber. In other words, based on past spending patterns, very little will be incurred as a result of cybersecurity spending. That said, it’s better than nothing.
Here’s a breakdown of the cybersecurity-related (including some relevant digital and STEM items) in the budget:
- $9.9 billion more than 10 years to deliver a Resilience, Effects, Defense, Space, Intelligence, Cyber and Enablers (REDSPICE) package. This will significantly enhance the ASD’s offensive and defensive cyber and intelligence capabilities.
- $1 billion via the Technology Investment Boost to help companies with total annual revenue less than $50 million support digital adoption, up to $100,000 in expenses per year, by deducting a 20 percent bonus from the cost of business expenses and asset depreciation. It supports investments in digital assets such as cloud computing, cybersecurity, accounting and e-invoicing software, portable payment devices and web page design. This applies to eligible expenses incurred between 7.30 pm (AEDT) on March 29, 2022 (Budget Night) and June 30, 2023.
- $550 million via the Skills and training boost helping the companies with total annual revenues of less than $50 million, by deducting a 20 percent bonus for the cost of outside training delivered to their employees by providers registered in Australia. This increase applies to eligible expenses incurred between the budget night and June 30, 2024.
- $30.2 million expanding the entire pilot with government cyber hubs, including the establishment of a fourth Cyber Hub Pilot at the Australian tax office.
- $38.4 million more than 3 years from 2022-23, and $12.6 million per year continuously from 2025-26 to monitor the government’s response to the Exploring the future directions for consumer data law†
- $3.9 million over two years from 2022-23 to support more women in digitally literate roles. In partnership with industry, this initiative will provide mentoring and coaching to facilitate a mid-career transition into the tech workforce.
- $2 million over four years until 2024–25 to fund the Superstars of STEM program delivered by Science and Technology Australia to increase the visibility of women in STEM as role models and which has supported 150 women to date.
- $2.3 million over two years to 2025–26 for the Women in STEM Ambassador program, which has seen Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith reach 121,916 unique participants through 370 hours of public engagements and outreach.
- $2.4 million in four years to 2025–26 every future you awareness campaign, which provides an online platform that has reached 3.1 million children, parents and carers to raise awareness among children aged 8-12 and their parents and carers.