Life-changing COVID-19 digital revolution set to be permanent
The digital revolution sparked by the coronavirus pandemic has made it easier for Australians to access lawyers, doctors and cut red tape for companies should be made permanent, a review has found.
Telehealth medical appointments, emailed prescriptions, video conferencing to sign legal documents and virtual AGMs have dramatically changed the way the nation does business during COVID-19, and now the federal government has been advised to keep them permanently.
The Financial Technology and Regulatory Technology interim report released on Wednesday has called for wide-ranging innovations in the digital space to be maintained beyond the time-limited changes implemented during the emergency phases of the pandemic.
The report has recommended the government simplify payroll tax between states and encourage more competition in financial technology such as innovative companies like Afterpay and Zip.
After reviewing all the short-term digital measures introduced during coronavirus to keep businesses going remotely, the committee has argued many should be kept to boost productivity and enable remote and rural Australians to access services.
"The committee considers that a number of temporary changes made during the crisis should be made permanent in order to lock in technology gains," the report says.
NSW Senator Andrew Bragg chairs the committee on financial and regulatory technology and said Australia needed to "embrace technology" and become "globally competitive" to create jobs in the future.
"We've already shown we can be smarter and more innovative during the pandemic," he said.
"That's why we've called for the extension of virtual AGMs, electronic execution of legal documents and a permanent telehealth system."
Mr Bragg said the jobs would be found throughout the economy in manufacturing, agriculture and service industries.
"Agtech is a perfect example of one such areas as farming becomes increasingly more reliant on technology," he said.
"That's why we've called for the creation of an Agtech Advisory Council."
Buy now pay later companies have welcomed the committee's support for more competition in the financial sector.
Law Council president Pauline Wright said the "critical role" of technology during the COVID-19 pandemic including electronic signatures, remote witnessing of documents and virtual annual general meetings had saved many businesses.
"Challenges associated with a default dependence on face-to-face interaction will likely re-
surface during future crises, and is a persistent issue in regional, remote and rural areas," she said.
"The recommendations of the Committee as they relate to technology neutral corporations
law are a welcome step towards ensuring that we maintain pace with modern global
Afterpay chief executive and co-founder Anthony Eisen said the company welcomed the committee's support for new business models that provided "much-needed" competition in the market.
"Competition … (can) in turn offer greater customer choice and help to raise standards," he said.
"What this report recognises is that customers are responding positively to innovation that delivers better outcomes for them, and that our regulatory frameworks need to embrace and foster this if Australia is to compete on an international level."
Zip chief operating officer and co-founder Peter Gray said the committee was "absolutely spot-on" in its recognition that innovation was "too important to be smothered with a one-size-fits-all approach to regulation".
"On this point, Zip is pleased to see the committee acknowledge the importance of self
regulation and the need to create a culture of innovation in Australia," he said.
"Zip also notes the committee's reference to the robust performance of the Buy Now Pay
Later sector during COVID, which the committee says saw less than 1 per cent of customers
approved for hardship relief, which is significantly better than other traditional sectors and
TV STAR CONTRACTS COVID-19
Australian actor Hugh Sheridan has tested positive to COVID-19.
The Packed to the Rafters star remains in quarantine in a Sydney hotel after returning to Australia from Los Angeles.
"I've been quiet for the last few days cause I've been feeling all the varied emotions about my positive Covid test," the 35-year-old actor wrote on Instagram.
Los Angeles-based Sheridan was based in Sydney through the first wave of coronavirus but returned to the US for work.
View this post on Instagram
If u missed the rather iconic moment Sunday when I was insta live “playing DJ” to entertain other quarantine peeps when cops came to my door mid set 👍🏽... I thought It best to fill the rest of u in. I’ve been quiet for the last few days cause I’ve been feeling all the varied emotions about my positive Covid test. I haven’t felt like talking to anyone much yet. I had a negative result when I arrived, I now know all my friends including who took me to LAX airport are all negative so it’s been confusing for me, it’s scary, frustrating & lonely. I always preach that it’s OK to not feel okay & to let people know how you feel. So by writing my honest feelings I’m trying to help release stigma around guys talking about feeling blue. I realise that there are SO MANY people in far worse situations than me right now, it’s the main reason I haven’t wanted to talk publicly about my own situation. I currently have no symptoms & haven’t had this whole time, I am SO LUCKY & I keep reminding myself to count each blessing 1 by 1. To everyone: this virus is seriously clever. Knowing now, that no one I saw back home overseas has it means I got it in a very short space of time (in transit or a surface) while I had minimal human contact. I want to say a MASSIVE THANK YOU to the quarantine staff for being so kind during this time, even if it’s just over the phone, u me help a lot! The RPA Virtual Hospital have also been amazingly informative & positive (emotionally). Thank u to to all the health workers out there working day & night for patients much worse off that me. I wanted to be honest with u because we all have good days & not so good days & without days like my last few the good ones wouldn’t feel as good! To everyone that received a positive Covid test, I now know how that feels, I wish we could all be together so we could offer each other a shoulder or even better a HUG! If I’m not on social media as much it’s not necessarily cause I’m down, it’s cause it can make me feel a lil worse for the moment. So I’m tuning out & taking time to focus on editing my script “The Dance”, appropriately it deals with how to get through! This too shall pass. I AM OK! 👌🏼 #somuchlove
He flew home to Australia just over a week ago and has shared his mandatory quarantine prolifically on social media.
"I had a negative result when I arrived, I now know all my friends including who took me to LAX airport are all negative so it's been confusing to me, it's scary, frustrating & lonely."
Sheridan said he had experienced no symptoms.
"This virus isn't seriously clever," he wrote. "Knowing now, that no one I saw back home overseas has it means I got it in a very short space of time (in transit or a surface) while I had minimal human contact."
Originally published as Life-changing COVID-19 digital revolution set to be permanent