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Xaana.Ai Blog


Xaana's Response to Australian Budget 2024-25

The 2024 budget has been handed down, and from our perspective as a leading practitioner and investor in AI development, this budget is grim. 

Simon Bush from the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) summed it up perfectly “With only $39.9m allocated over 5 years ($8m p.a) for public servants to continue to regulate and review policies with not one cent to go to industry to grow local capability”. This is in stark contrast to countries like Singapore, whose government is investing $362m (US) in their AI capability or Canada’s $2.57bn (US) investment. 

This worrying under-investment ensures Australia will continue to languish in second last place globally in AI adoption. And this is a technology that our own Productivity Commission said could add more than a trillion dollars to our economy and drive increases in productivity. 

While we acknowledge the government's efforts to bolster various sectors of the economy, we encourage further critical AI technologies, which are pivotal for driving innovation, economic growth, and global competitiveness.

AI technologies have emerged as the cornerstone of the fourth industrial revolution, revolutionising industries ranging from healthcare and finance to manufacturing and agriculture. However, the budgetary allocation for AI research, development, and implementation falls well short of what is necessary to unleash the full potential of AI in Australia.

“I’m pleased to see $39 million allocated to support the safe and responsible adoption of AI technology,” said Xaana's founder, Dan Saldi. “However, we are concerned that more must be done to foster sovereign AI capabilities. It’s crucial to help Australian businesses, governments, and society fully address the challenges and seize the opportunities presented by these emerging technologies to ensure our nation's autonomy and competitiveness on the global stage.”

Given the critical importance of AI technologies, we urge the government to reconsider its budgetary priorities and allocate more resources towards AI research, development, and implementation. Specifically, we recommend the following measures:

  1. Increased Funding for AI Research: Allocate additional funding to academic institutions, research organisations, and technology firms engaged in AI research to accelerate the pace of innovation and discovery in this field. In addition we’d like to see a more transparent process for the allocation of funding including grants such as the $940 million ($470m each from the Federal and Queensland governments) investment in US based firm PsiQuantum with seemingly no competitive tender or local industry consultation.

  2. Support for AI Startups and SMEs: Provide targeted financial incentives, grants, and tax breaks to AI startups and small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to facilitate their growth and commercialization of AI-driven products and services.

  3. Investment in AI Infrastructure: Invest in the development of AI infrastructure, including data centres, cloud computing resources, and high-performance computing facilities, to support the scaling and deployment of AI applications across various industries.

  4. Promotion of AI Education and Skills Development: Enhance funding for AI education and skills development initiatives to ensure a pipeline of talent equipped with the necessary skills to drive AI innovation and adoption in the workforce.

  5. Support the Australian Public Service in AI use and adoption: In addition to the investment for regulation and policy, a significant investment is needed to unlock the performance gains available through the appropriate use of AI and automation for suitable tasks. In addition, education on the appropriate uses and ethics of AI use for senior leaders in the APS will ensure better decision making on the adoption of AI.

"The underinvestment in critical AI technologies in the Australian Federal Budget 2024 is a missed opportunity that could have far-reaching consequences for our economy, society, and global competitiveness. By prioritising AI investment and adopting a proactive approach towards AI innovation, Australia can position itself as a leader in the AI-driven economy of the future", said Matt Andrews, Xaana's Vice President.

We stand ready to collaborate with the government, industry stakeholders, and academia to harness the transformative power of AI for the benefit of all Australians.

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