Is Australia heading towards a tax on robots? Government urged to adopt new approach for future of work
The changing nature of work is prompting some pretty frank discussions about the future of the Australian job market and how companies will use the workforce in the years to come.
Entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk fear that as companies continue to automate roles with new technologies like artificial intelligence, humans will have less of a role to play.
It means fewer jobs and a lot of talk about what exactly people will be doing for a living 50 years from now.
Things like the Universal Basic Income (UBI), where the government would provide a basic salary for everyone, have been proposed as a way to protect people from the wave of automation, but it’s a pretty good idea. controversial.
A common counter-argument asks how such a policy would be, or could be, financed.
Enter the so-called bot tax, an idea popularized by Microsoft founder Bill Gates earlier this year.
Gates said last March that employed robots in human jobs should pay taxes to offset unemployment externality – money that would essentially be able to fund a UBI style program.
The idea gained local attention last weekend when shadow Minister of Labor for the digital economy, Ed Husic, told automation conference attendees that Australia may have to consider such a tax. if regulators are unable to prepare the country for the implications of an automated workforce.
“If unemployment is skyrocketing and we haven’t prepared for what’s to come, then yes we will. [have to consider a tax],” he said.
But Husic doesn’t think this is the best policy solution, saying she is focusing attention on the right questions – how automation will change the nature of work.
For businesses, the changing nature of employment has important implications, especially if policy stagnation leads to an automation tax.
David Fagan, adjunct professor of commerce at QUT and author of a book on digital disruption, recounts SmartCompany the government needs to move away from its “piecemeal approach” and take a holistic view of the future of work.
“Automation will change work, and if it leads to fewer people in the workforce, governments will need other ways to raise taxes just to fund existing services, let alone increasing demands for work. ‘welfare,’ he said.
“A robot tax is worth a very close look, but not if it stifles investment in innovation that can create more and different jobs in Australia.”
Automation is already changing the business landscape and could even take well-known roles in payroll, accounting and financial analysis. redundant in the years to come, according to a study by the World Economic Forum.
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