Appearing in Melbourne before the Senate's Select Committee on the Future of Work and Workers on Tuesday, the co-founder of Atlassian warned that changes to living-away-from-home allowances and recent 457 visa changes are hurting Australia's tech industry.
Photo: Louie Douvi
"Technology is already the biggest industry in the world, it is now well past finance and pulling away," Mr Cannon-Brookes told the select committee. "We have a pretty big decision as a country if we want a seat on that rocketship or not. Do we want to be a primary manufacturer of technology or not?"
Mr Cannon-Brookes said Australia generates about 1 per cent of the world's gross domestic product and to continue our wealth and prosperity it needs to be a primary producer of 1 per cent of the world's technology.
"We are not even close to that today," he said.
'Blacksmiths of the future'Mr Cannon- Brookes said the future of work is changing quickly in Australia.
"There will be massive job disruption," he said. "I kind of hate being Chicken Little and trying to scare people but it seems to be the only way."
Mr Cannon-Brookes said driverless cars are already on the road in the United States and will revolutionise Australia's transport sector, with drivers set to be "the blacksmiths of the future".
"I have four kids, I don't believe that any of them will ever learn to drive a car - and my oldest kid has just turned seven," he said.
Mr Cannon-Brookes said Uber and other taxi services and food delivery services would all be automated in the future.
"I would be less worried personally about regulating the gig economy in the next 10 years [but more about] is there going to be anyone working there in 10 years time?," he said.
Mr Cannon-Brookes said history suggests that jobs which will be gained through technological disruption are not going to be filled with the people who lose the jobs.
"That led to lots of social unrest and lots of problems in society," he said. "We can see that coming. I can tell you it's going to come and its going to be very painful if we don't plan for it."
TalentMr Cannon-Brookes said lack of technology talent is an issue for Australia.
While Australian technology graduates are highly sought after, Mr Cannon Brookes said "our best ship off overseas."
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