This page belongs to: Action Plan for Critical Technologies

The action plan for critical technologies

Operationalising the Blueprint with tangible actions

The Blueprint for Critical Technologies outlines a vision for protecting and promoting critical technologies in Australia’s national interest. The Blueprint is underpinned by four goals and seven action pillars, with a focus on promoting and protecting critical technologies through a national interest lens that balances the economic opportunities of critical technologies with their national security risks.

The Action Plan for Critical Technologies demonstrates the Australian Government’s tangible actions to protect and promote critical technologies and categorises these actions under the Blueprint’s response framework. In essence, the Action Plan operationalises the Blueprint.

The Action Plan identifies critical technologies in our national interest and demonstrates government action

The List of Critical Technologies specifies the technologies in the national interest. For all technologies listed now, the Government will apply a rigorous analytical framework to determine where policy gaps exist or may emerge. Noting that new critical technologies will emerge over time, the Government will frequently review the List to ensure the right technologies are identified. The Australian government has a comprehensive suite of actions in place already to promote and protect critical technologies – including existing research and business investments and policy actions. We will continue to review our suite of policy actions to ensure they remain fit for purpose as the environment changes and new challenges emerge. Where needed, the Government will deploy a variety of policy levers – including economic, national security and diplomatic levers – and make calculated decisions to address these challenges.

When pursuing actions to promote and protect critical technologies, the Government will prioritise policies that promote our liberal values of openness and transparency, a rules-based international order and a free and prosperous Indo-Pacific. However, the COVID-19 pandemic also demonstrates that pursuing actions to build our sovereign capability and resilience is vital to our national interest. The Government will ensure all actions to protect and promote critical technologies are proportional, targeted and sustainable.

The Government has four policy response categories available when pursuing actions on critical technologies. Table 1 gives an overview of each category of policy response and their corresponding policy levers.

A response framework for critical technologies

CATEGORY A - No regrets

Generally lowest costs

Low-cost actions that build resilience, regardless of the scale of the problem. These actions are designed to support government, industry, academia and Australian citizens in responding to the challenges and opportunities presented by critical technologies.

CATEGORY B - Responsive support

Generally lower costs

Responsive support for market resilience. Responsive support involves few costs unless a disruption occurs. In a critical technologies context, examples of disruptions that government might need to respond to ‘reactively’ include unwanted tech transfer and a supply disruption to a critical technology. Broader disruptions such as recessions, pandemics and environmental catastrophes also have flow-on consequences for Australia’s ability to protect and promote critical technologies and therefore require a Government response.

CATEGORY C - Pre-emptive support

Generally moderate costs

Early and targeted action where a disruption to a critical technology is expected to significantly impact the national interest and there is an imperative to anticipate challenges and opportunities rather than respond to them. Managing the impacts of disruption involve upfront and ongoing costs, regardless of whether disruption occurs.

CATEGORY D - On-shoring & restrictions

Generally highest costs

Actions that directly regulate economic and social activity and/or divert resources from areas backed by private investment. These actions may seek to establish a sovereign capability for a critical technology or to mitigate risks such as unwanted tech transfer. These actions generally incur higher costs because they can distort markets, require upfront and ongoing government investment and impose regulatory burden on industry

Following from the response framework is the Government’s comprehensive suite of recent actions to promote and protect critical technologies across all four policy response categories.

Government actions to promote and protect critical technologies

No regrets

New announcements

  • List of Critical Technologies in the National Interest
  • Short List of Critical Technologies for Initial Focus
  • Technology Cards - for Short List of Critical Technologies outlining where Australia sits in the world, key applications, government investment and opportunities and risks
  • Critical Technology Supply Chain Principles

Responsive support

New announcements

  • Defence Innovation Hub investment in AI applications for Defence

Existing initiatives

  • Critical Minerals Facilitation Office
  • Global Business & Talent Attraction Taskforce
  • Global Talent Visa program
  • Universities Foreign Interference Taskforce
  • National Manufacturing Workforce Strategy
  • ‘Secure-G’ Connectivity Test Lab
  • Telecommunications Security Review

Pre-emptive support

New announcements

  • Australia-India Centre of Excellence for Critical Technologies
  • Quantum Commercialisation Hub

Existing initiatives

  • Modern Manufacturing Strategy
  • Critical Minerals Loan Facility
  • AI Action Plan
  • Australian 5G Innovation Initiative
  • National Hydrogen Strategy
  • Clean Energy Finance Corporation
  • Supply Chain Resilience Initiative

On-shoring & regulation

Existing initiatives

  • Defence & Strategic Goods List
  • Foreign investment restrictions for critical technologies
  • Sovereign mRNA vaccine capability

More information on the Government’s actions to protect and promote critical technologies

List of critical technologies in the national interest

The Government has developed a list of critical technologies in the national interest. The list consists of 63 technologies in eight categories that are either critical for Australia today or are expected to become critical within the next ten years. From this list of 63 technologies, the CTPCO has identified an interim short list of nine technology areas for initial focus.

Tech cards for critical technology areas

For each of the nine technology areas for initial focus, the Government has developed a set of tech cards. The tech cards are intended to provide an easily accessible snapshot of the technology, its applications, the underpinning science, our research strengths, venture capital and patents, key Commonwealth priorities and investments, and opportunities and risks.

Government actions to protect and promote critical technologies

As part of this Action Plan, the Government is launching a package of new initiatives to protect and promote critical technologies. This package focuses initially on ‘no regrets’ and ‘pre‐emptive’ actions. Focusing on these two actions ensures the Government protects and promotes critical technologies in a way that is low-cost, proactive and engages key international partners. This package builds upon a strong foundation of work already underway across government in the critical technologies space.