New evidence out today confirmed the Turnbull Government is asleep at the wheel when it comes to investing in innovation and leading the effort to re-skill Australia’s workforce for the digital economy.

New Microsoft Australia managing director, Steven Worrall, has identified innovation and skills as two areas where Australia must improve. He considers the problem so serious that he pledged to the Australian Financial Review that he would keep the government “honest” on the issue.

He identified skills shortages in Australia across a range of growth areas. Mr Worrall specified data science and extracting business solutions from data were two areas Australia must improve to help the digital economy thrive.

That is bad news coming from a leader of a massive global technology company and an indictment on current skills and digital training policies. For our digital economy to expand and grow Australia must invest in STEM education and skills. The Turnbull Government has been woefully lacking in this department.

This comes on the back of news that the CSIRO will open an office in Silicon Valley, highlighting where the organisation's priorities lie. 

The Liberals cut CSIRO’s funding by $115 million taking the jobs of well over a thousand scientists and staff – the biggest job losses in its history.

But instead of repairing some of the damage that has been done to Australian science, research and innovation it is choosing to invest in jobs offshore.

The Liberals under Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull have a woeful track record when it comes to investing in innovation and preparing Australia to move into a digital-based economy.

Australians are demanding local results from the digital and innovation sectors – they want to see new technologies and skills improving lives here.

Under two prime ministers and four science ministers, this Liberal Government has expressed a consistent preference for research that turns a quick dollar over the public good and breakthrough discovery. 

The Turnbull Government has already invested in the creation of landing pads overseas; they should explain why they are now doubling up on this instead of investing more money into skills and research.


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