SYDNEY — Alphabet Inc.’s Google said it will invest 1 billion Australian dollars (US$730 million) over five years into Australian infrastructure, research and partnerships, which would be the company’s single-biggest investment in the country.
Alphabet GOOGL, -0.15% GOOG, -0.17% and Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai said the investment will help develop Australia’s digital infrastructure, with a focus on cloud computing. He also said it will include the launch of Google’s first research hub in Australia and a partnership with Australia’s national science agency.
Google said an economic analysis showed that the investment will support more than 6,000 new direct jobs across Australia.
“Australia can help lead the world’s next wave of innovation, harnessing technology to improve lives, create jobs and make progress,” Pichai said, adding that the investment will bring the benefits of technology to more Australians.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who spoke at an event marking the announcement, said Google’s investment is a vote of confidence in Australia’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. His center-right government earlier this year released a digital-economy strategy that outlined plans to develop Australia into a leading digital economy by 2030.
Google first set up a presence in Australia in 2002 and its popular Google Maps platform was developed in the country. But relations between big U.S. tech companies and the Australian government had been strained recently. Earlier this year, Australian lawmakers passed a law effectively requiring big tech companies, including Google and Meta Platforms Inc.’s FB, +1.96% Facebook, to pay news publishers for content.
But on Tuesday, Morrison, who is expected to face an election next year, said Google had been a productive partner on various issues, such as online safety, dealing with extremist content and news-media competition.
“We sat down, we’ve worked through them and I think we’ve got the right result for both the citizens of Australia and for the technology future that we both want to embrace,” Morrison said. “The fact that Google has decided to invest in the way that they have I think seals that partnership.”
Ties between the U.S. and Australia have deepened in recent months, with the U.S. agreeing to help develop nuclear submarine capacity for Australia as part of a three-way security partnership for the Indo-Pacific that also includes the United Kingdom.
Mike Goldman, the charge d’affaires for the U.S. embassy in the Australian capital Canberra, said at Tuesday’s event that the deepening ties involve technology sharing broadly, with a focus not just on defense but on technology like quantum computing and artificial intelligence that is also applicable to economic growth and prosperity.
“We’re proud to be Australia’s partners and we’re proud to learn from Australia,” he said. “It’s not just a one-way transfer. We’re getting every bit as much out of our partnership with Australia as we’re giving.”