SME funding boost


6th May, 2021

Federal Budget 2021: $1.2bn for the Digital Economy Strategy announced

The Morrison Government has unveiled plans to inject $1.2 billion into the development of emerging technologies, digital skills growth, bolstering investment and the enhancement of key government services.

Small and medium businesses are well placed to benefit from the Prime Minister’s latest announcements regarding the 2021 Federal Budget, with the Prime Minister pledging to spend millions on initiatives focused on growing Australia into a leading digital economy.

Key takeaways:

  • Rules around the depreciation of intangible assets to level up with physical assets
  • Game development expenditure to receive tax breaks of up to 30 percent
  • Digital advisory services for SMEs and funding to encourage the uptake of e-invoicing to increase
  • Artificial Intelligence, aviation and cyber to receive funding as part of this strategy
  • The myGov and My Health Record to receive substantial funds for further digital enhancements
  • Acceleration of the Consumer Data Right (CDR) rollout in banking, energy, and telecommunications to feature in this strategy as well

In his media release launching the funding, Prime Minister Scott Morrison referred to every business in Australia as a “digital business” and emphasised the importance he placed on transitioning into digital business alternatives.

“We must keep our foot on the digital accelerator to secure our economic recovery from COVID-19,” Morrison said.

The proposed extension to the Digital Economy Strategy has been designed to offer support to a variety of key technological verticals that have been prioritised by the Australian Government, many of which including measures of support for small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs).

Depreciation of intangible assets – a new approach

Among the more notable components of this strategy, the PM has announced that $170 million is set to be allocated to a new initiative which proposes to allow businesses to treat their intangible assets (such as in-house software systems and intellectual property) in the same manner as tangible assets from a depreciation standpoint.

As of 1 July 2022, business will be able to self-assess the life of their intangible assets and depreciate them yearly.

Additionally, the PM has unveiled a new tax offset within his strategy, offering tax breaks of up to 30 percent for a series of costs related to game development.

Digital advisory services for SMEs

In an attempt to help small businesses develop the capabilities required to take on digital products and services within their business practices, the government has also allocated $12.7 million to the provision of SME focused digital advisory services.

An additional $15.3 million will go toward enabling businesses to incorporate e-invoicing into their billing systems.

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Funding for artificial intelligence, aviation technologies and cybersecurity

Morrison also announced his intention to invest $124.1 million of taxpayer funds into initiatives that build the country’s artificial intelligence capabilities, including the development of a National Artificial Intelligence Centre, led by CSIRO Data 61.

An additional $35.7 million in funding with be devoted to bolstering the emergence of innovative aviation technologies, with a particular focus on drone technologies that can be used to address priority needs in regional Australia.

$50 million will be allocated to cybersecurity measures for across government, data centres and future telecommunication networks.

Government services to receive digital overhaul

A significant portion of the coalition’s investment into digitisation will be put towards major technological changes to a number of the government’s digital platforms.

This will include $200.1 million in funding to revamp the myGov website, and an additional $301.8 million to enhance the My Health Record platform and to expand its digital identity system.

Consumer Data Right rollout set to press ahead

To provide more industry sectors with greater control over their own data as quickly as possible, the Government will be allocating some $111.3 million to the rollout of the CDR.

These funds are expected to see the CDR launched within the banking, energy, and telecommunications industries both rapidly and effectively.

According to Minister of the Digital Economy Jane Hume, the measures within this strategy have been taken to improve the way Australian’s live, their access to jobs, and the way in which they interact with Government services.

“This is a really exciting announcement, which will drive investment and uptake of emerging technologies, unlock the value of data, build skills for a modern economy, and enhance Government service delivery,” Hume said.

Chief Economist of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Dr Ross Lambie applauded these measures, referring to the announcement as “comprehensive” and “far reaching”.

“Small and medium sized business will no longer miss out on the productivity and profitability gains that can be achieved through the adoption of digital technology,” he said in a statement released by the Chamber.


Want to hear more about what the 2021 Federal Budget means for small business?

See our expert panel featuring the The Hon. Stuart Robert MP, Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business, Dr Craig Latham, Deputy, Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman and Helen Lea, Chief Employee Experience Officer, MYOB, discuss what the Budget means for your small business (from Friday 21 May at 9:30am-10:15 AEST). View it here today.