CANBERRA, AAP – New analysis shows Australia could be $210 billion better off over the next 20 years if the shift to a digital economy is accelerated.

The report, completed by consultants EY for the Business Council of Australia, says with the right approach Australian can fulfil its ambition to be a digital leader by 2030.

“People want easier, more convenient ways of doing business, so becoming a leading digital economy is win-win,” Business Council president Tim Reed said.

“It makes everyday life easier for consumers and it creates new jobs.”

He said the slow drift away from cash and paper before COVID-19 became a stampede during the pandemic, and he wants to build on that momentum.

In a speech on Thursday, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg made the digital economy one of his priorities for his May 11 budget.

The Business Council wants a dedicated cabinet minister for the digital economy to oversee Australia’s digital transformation.

It wants unnecessary red tape and regulation reduced, while lifting the nation’s digital skills and driving investment through tax incentives or grants worth up to $10,000 for small and medium-sized businesses to assist in training, a shift in e-invoicing and improving cyber security.

“We’ll need the best-skilled workers in the world to take advantage of new jobs in new and developing industries,” Mr Reed said.

In his speech, Mr Frydenberg said measures in the budget would also include skills, infrastructure, tax, energy and deregulation.

But he also announced a key fiscal strategy change, saying he wanted to see the jobless rate below five per cent before undertaking the budget repair process.

Last year in the depths of the pandemic and after splashing out billions of dollar to protect the economy, the treasurer said budget repair would not commence until the jobless rate was “comfortably below six per cent”.

The unemployment rate has since fallen to 5.6 per cent.

“Our focus right now is to get more people into work because if you get more people into work, you actually improve the budget bottom line,” he said.

Peak welfare group ACOSS welcomed the change in policy, but said the critical question now was how the government proposed to pursue this goal.

“The federal budget needs to invest in income support, high-priority human services, and key public infrastructure including social housing and energy efficiency programs,” ACOSS chief executive Cassandra Goldie said.

“We need to generate new jobs in the community service sector so that we can properly resource important services like aged care and child care.”