Google to invest $1 billion in Australia to boost digital future

The tech giant is investing in the country despite threatening to pull Google Search from Australia in January

Google will invest AU$1 billion (£545 million) into Australia as part of a five-year commitment, despite threatening to pull out of the country in January this year.

The tech giant is branding the investment a digital future initiative that will focus on Australian infrastructure, research, and partnerships, building on the company’s work in the country and the almost 2,000 ‘Googlers’ it has in offices in Sydney and Melbourne. 

Google is looking to help build the foundations of Australia’s digital economy, especially as the country plans to be a digital leader by 2030, by investing in infrastructure to provide businesses with a secure platform for business transformation. 

The company is also launching Google Research Australia, its first research hub in the country, where it will partner with the research community and other Google Research hubs to build a team of local researchers and engineers to explore how AI and machine learning can help tackle local and worldwide issues.

As part of a multi-million dollar partnership, Google has teamed up with Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, to tackle challenges like natural hazard management, energy, and protecting the Great Barrier Reef. Additionally, it will deepen its investment in quantum computing research with Macquarie University, which could help design more efficient batteries, allowing scientists to make discoveries that were previously out of reach.

“We believe a strong digital future is one where everyone has access to technology and the skills to use it, where the internet economy fulfils its immense potential, and Australia’s long tradition of innovation can grow and thrive,” said Google CEO Sundar Pichai. “We look forward to working together as Australia builds that future, and we can’t wait to be part of it.”

The new investment comes in contrast to Google’s threat in January to leave the country after the company told a parliamentary hearing that a proposed law, which was passed in February, forcing it to pay news publishers for the right to link to their content “would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia”.

The threat came from Mel Silva, the company’s Australian managing director, and forced Scott Morrison, the prime minister, to say “we don’t respond to threats”.

“The Digital Future Initiative is an investment in the extraordinary talent and creativity of Australians,” said Silva yesterday in a blog post. “It's about ensuring every Australian has access to technology to realise their potential.”

This initiative is Google’s latest investment in the country after it opened a new cloud region in Melbourne in July. This was the firm’s second region in Australia and its 11th in the APAC region overall, with customers able to benefit from low latency and high performance of their cloud-based workloads.

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