Australia's low, and slipping, levels of intellectual property and technology production has increased the ICT balance of payment deficit.
Neville Roach, chairman of Smart Internet Technology Co-operative Research Centre (CRC), slammed the result at the Smart Internet conference in Sydney yesterday, labelling ICT's trade deficit as "alarming".
Roach said the problem with Australian's attitude to technology was that: "We are voracious users of technology, leading-edge users; we adopt technology almost before anyone in the rest of the world. Unfortunately we are pretty ordinary when it comes to producing technology in terms of the amount of product and services that we actually export. We certainly lag behind most of the world.
"We are champion users but strugglers when it comes to producers.
"The effect of this is the production of the deficit in the balance of payment in the ICT space. More importantly, [it] has doubled in less than four years; the trend lines are quite alarming. Looking into the future, you can see this bending towards $50 billion fairly quickly."
Smart Internet Technology CRC is a group that brings together researchers from universities, government laboratories and private industry or public sector agencies in collaborative arrangements to support research and development in Internet technologies.
Roach said, "Other sectors of the economy are also producing a deficit right now, but the scale of the deficit for ICT is quite alarming.
"While the economy is strong, it inevitably puts pressure on the dollar, and certainly the IT industry and IT users," he said.
"This means technology will keep getting more and more expensive for us and that's the last thing you want, whether you work in the IT industry or whether you are dependant on the company use of IT," he said.
Roach called for more research and development into the creation of intellectual property for the Australian IT&T industry. Roach said Smart Internet Technologies CRC was formed to help facilitate the commercialisation and exporting of IP by understanding the future of the Internet industry.