JobMaker: The Beginning of Digital Business Planning
The Morrison Government is investing almost a billion dollars to enable businesses to take advantage of digital technologies to grow their businesses and create jobs as part of its economic recovery plan.
With an $800 million JobMaker Digital Business Plan recently unveiled to support economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19, it’s a great indicator that the Federal Government sees potential in the REIQ’s recent lobbying efforts for digital transformation of the real estate industry.
There’s widespread recognition among industry leaders that the role of digital technology is rapidly shifting, from being a driver of marginal efficiency to an enabler of fundamental innovation and disruption. The 2018/19 Annual Report of the Residential Tenancies Authority confirms that 80.6% of Queensland rental properties are managed by real estate practitioners and that a vast majority of property sales are also facilitated by real estate practitioners. As Queensland continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, the REIQ now more than ever calls for a commitment to evaluate the process of which real estate transactions are conducted through:
- facilitating the use of electronic signatures by corporations and individuals;
- recognition of electronic contracts and approved forms by governing authorities; and,
- further streamlining real estate processes by permanently implementing measures that assist virtual transactions on a permanent basis extending beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
These can be achieved by updating the execution requirements of Property Law Act (1974) and maintaining the execution provisions under Corporations (Coronavirus Economic Response) Determination (No. 1) (2020) beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Take up of DocuSign alone shows the industry is more than ready: 350% increase in the number of DocuSign users and 680% increase in DocuSign usage to date since the outbreak of COVID-19.
“Many businesses moved online quickly when the pandemic hit, undergoing a decade of change in months, finding new customers or new ways of doing things,” the Prime Minister said. “Our JobMaker Digital Business Plan provides significant backing to continue that digital push and expand opportunities for businesses to grow and create more jobs. The Plan supports Australia’s economic recovery by removing out-dated regulatory barriers, boosting the capability of small businesses and backs the uptake of technology across the economy.”
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the Federal Government was investing in Australia’s digital economy to keep businesses in business and Australians in jobs as part of its economic recovery plan. “The Governments’ Digital Business plan is targeted at building on this digital transformation of Australian businesses to drive productivity and income growth and create jobs,” the Treasurer added. “Our Digital Infrastructure package is estimated to increase Australia’s GDP by $6.4 billion a year by 2024 and around $1.5 billion of this additional economic activity is estimated to flow to regional Australia each year.”
Overall, the package is targeted at building on the digital transformation of Australian businesses to drive productivity and income growth and create jobs and includes a controversial Digital Identity system the government says will make it easier to engage “with government services, and in future, the private sector.” The real question is how ready the Federal Government is to handle the responsibility associated with such a scheme — and how it fits with similar schemes already announced by other departments, such as the Australian Tax Office. Meanwhile, other elements of the Digital Business Plan include:
- A further $419.9 million to enable the full implementation of the Modernising Business Registers (MBR) program, allowing businesses to quickly view, update and maintain their business registry data in one location;
- A further $28.5 million to support the rollout of the Consumer Data Right to the banking and energy sectors, which is in addition to the more than $120 million already committed;
- $29.2 million to accelerate the rollout of 5G, including an initiative to invest in 5G commercial trials and testbeds in key industry sectors such as agriculture, mining, logistics and manufacturing;
- $22.2 million to support small business operators take advantage of digital technologies through an expansion of the Australian Small Business Advisory Service – Digital Solutions program, a Digital Readiness Assessment tool and a Digital Directors training package;
- $11.4 million for a new regulatory technology commercialisation initiative to improve compliance and directly support digital technology firms;
- $9.6 million to support fintechs to export financial services and attract inward investment;
- $6.9 million for two blockchain pilots directed at reducing business compliance costs;
- $5.9 million to boost Australia’s influence on international standards;
- $2.5 million to connect workers and small and medium sized businesses to digital skills training;
- Consulting on making permanent the temporary reforms to allow companies to hold virtual meetings and execute documents electronically;
- Reviewing the regulatory architecture applying to the payments system to ensure it remains fit for purpose and is capable of supporting continued innovation for the benefit both businesses and consumers; and,
- Reforming the regulation around stored-value facilities to support innovation and competition in line with the recommendations of the Council of Financial Regulators.
These initiatives are in addition to the Federal Government’s $4.5 billion NBN investment plan to bring ultra-fast broadband to millions of families and businesses across the economy over the next two years. They also work with prior commitments to build digital skills and to improve trust and security in the digital economy, including through the $1.67 billion investment in the 2020 Cyber Security Strategy and investments in online safety. The Digital Business Plan is part of the Federal Government’s economic recovery plan to grow the economy and create jobs and support its goal for Australia to be a leading digital economy and society by 2030.
While it’s clear that digital technology will transform how real estate transacts, there are a number of challenges that need to be understood such as the opportunities for value creation and amendments of outdated regulations. These challenges need to be addressed by industry and government leaders to unlock the substantial benefits digital offers our industry which is why the REIQ is also calling for the establishment of a Digital Advisory Committee between the real estate industry and government to work collaboratively towards the goal of industry digitalisation with a view to reducing red tape and bringing it into line with contemporary legislation.
 Dynamic Methods Report Data Comparisons: March-August 2019/March-August 2020