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Arthur Sinodinos to warn Australia risks being ‘overwhelmed’ by digital disruption

The Guardian // 02nd April 2017

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Arthur Sinodinos to warn Australia risks being ‘overwhelmed’ by digital disruption” was written by Katharine Murphy Political editor, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 21st March 2017 20.15 UTC

The innovation minister, Arthur Sinodinos, says disruption is the new constant as we enter the fourth industrial revolution and, if Australia doesn’t acknowledge change, we risk “being overwhelmed and disadvantaged by it”.

Sinodinos will use a speech at the National Press Club on Wednesday to hit back at recent criticism from the tech entrepreneur Mike Cannon-Brookes, the cofounder of Atlassian, that the Turnbull government has dialled down its once surround-sound commitment to innovation.

The minister will also warn an emerging lack of respect for experts and for scientific method, and the substitution of ideology for evidence, is a disturbing trend that needs to be countered by more research and by more innovative thinking.

“We see the conclusions of experts being cast aside, in favour of ideological positions and selective use of facts,” Sinodinos will tell the press club. “Denying the threat of climate change is a well-worn example; however, rejecting vaccinations – at the risk of children’s lives and public health – resurfaced just this month.

“The only credible response to these positions is scientific fact. And more research and more innovative thinking.”

Sinodinos will address the press club as part of the annual Science meets Parliament event, which is a two-day gathering of 200 scientists in Canberra.

Cannon-Brookes, the cofounder of Australia’s most successful tech companies, recently argued that it was “crazy” of the government not to acknowledge frankly that structural change courtesy of digital disruption was going to fundamentally change the country.

The tech entrepreneur told a business summit in Sydney that political leaders “should be honest and empathetic and admit there are going to be a massive amount of jobs destroyed, there are going to be a massive amount of jobs created”.

Sinodinos will argue the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has attempted to open a conversation about digital disruption and has sought a “cultural change that outlasts any minister or any government”.

“From when Malcolm Turnbull became prime minister, we started a conversation about Australia’s future to address that exact question,” the minister will say. “Through our innovation policies, we want to keep Australians in gainful, well-paid jobs.

“That’s what this government’s policies are all about. They’re about helping your business and your industry to respond to disruption in the market and to stay viable in the future.

“They’re about creating an innovation mindset across all sectors of the economy – traditional and non-traditional.”

Addressing the challenges of digital disruption, Sinodinos will argue Australia must embrace change “and derive the greatest benefits we can”.

“Governments cannot turn back the tide of change or mandate existing market structures,” the minister will say. “We’re part of a global marketplace. Our competitors overseas are not waiting for us to change.

“As consumers, we have more options than ever before – we’re more informed and assertive than ever. These are the big structural changes that are affecting the whole community.”

Sinodinos will argue that structural change “can be a positive”.

“With the right mindset and support, businesses can use it to evolve, become more competitive and resilient, and safeguard job security for their workers.

“As always, science, research and people with new ideas are at the centre and foundation of this transition.”

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