On Wednesday, Australia’s prime minister said that more than 60 areas of technology are essential to
the country’s interests, promising millions of dollars in investment to prevent strategic rivals from
gaining control of industries ranging from cyber security to medicine.
Australia has vowed to spend billions of dollars in recent months to modernise its economy and reduce
its reliance on China by boosting production in fields like resources and vital minerals, as well as
supporting low-emission technology.
Australia has identified 63 technologies that Canberra cannot allow others to dominate, according to
Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Advanced cyber, genomics, and innovative antibiotics are among them.
“In most cases having diverse well-functioning markets can meet our technology needs, but in some
cases – for critical technologies – we need to ensure we can access and use such technologies reliably
and safely, in good times and bad,” Morrison said in a speech.
“This investment will help secure future economic opportunities for Australian businesses, create local
jobs and importantly, it will help keep Australians safe.”
While Morrison mentioned 63 technologies, Australia will focus on nine at first. Quantum technology
will be the first of these. Morrison has committed A$100 million ($73 million) to commercialising
quantum research and forging connections with global markets and supply networks.
“Australia is working with like-minded countries, liberal democracies in particular, to ensure global
technology rules and norms reflect those values – liberal democratic values.”
Because technology is so important to Australia, Canberra may put limits on domestic universities
conducting cooperative research with foreign institutions in all 63 areas.
On Wednesday, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews announced new university restrictions aimed at
reducing the potential of foreign meddling.
Quantum technology, which is based on fundamental physics principles, is still in its infancy, but it has
attracted the attention of investors looking to revolutionise industries ranging from healthcare and
banking to artificial intelligence and weather forecasting.
A 2020 report titled “Growing Australia’s Quantum Technology Industry” by the CSIRO, the national
science agency, said it could generate over $4 billion and 16,000 jobs by 2040.
The Australian information technology sector applauded Morrison’s announcement.
“Quantum technology has the potential to be a multibillion-dollar business that creates thousands of
jobs in Australia,” said Ron Gauci, CEO of the Australian Information Industry Association.