Anthony Albanese has announced a $5bn deal with tech giant Microsoft to ramp up Australia’s battle against cybercrime and upskill up to 30,000 workers.
The Prime Minister unveiled the mega deal in Washington DC on Tuesday, pitching it as “a major investment” to help Australia strengthen its position as a world-leading economy.
“We are confronting an ever-changing world, and countries will either move forward and seize the opportunities to create the jobs of the future,” he said.
“To expand in terms of our economic growth, to take advantage of where we are in the world in the fastest growing region in the world in human history just to our north or countries will go past us.
“This investment will help make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Under the deal, Microsoft will invest $5bn over two years to expand its artificial intelligence and cloud computing operations in Australia and open up to 29 data centres in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.
Australia’s online spy agency will also join Microsoft to build a “cyber shield” to protect networks from security threats.
Mr Albanese said there were “three great threats for why we need to become more resilient” in Australia that called for a greater investment in developing technologies.
He warned a potential cyber attack could have enormous impact on the economy and alluded to the developing conflict in the Middle East.
“We live in a world where, unfortunately, we’re seeing conflict take place in a number of destinations around the world and our own region is not immune from risk,” he said.
“This investment, getting ahead, will make an enormous difference.”
Mr Albanese arrived in the US for an official visit at the invitation of US President Joe Biden that he said came “at a turbulent time for the world”.
Mr Albanese touched down in Washington DC late on Sunday night local time and was met by Australia’s ambassador to the US, former prime minister Kevin Rudd.
It will be the ninth in-person meeting between Mr Albanese and Mr Biden since last year’s Australian election and follows the President’s last minute withdrawal from a Quad meeting in Sydney earlier this year.“
“The relationship between Australia and the United States is so important,” Mr Albanese told reporters on arrival.