Google announces plans to spend AU$1 billion in Australia across five years, amending ties with the country.

Google said last Tuesday they will be investing AU$1 billion (US$736 million) in Australia over the next five years. Following previous threats to leave the country earlier this year due to tightened government regulations, this move marks the internet giant’s commitment to reconciliation.

GOOGL.O, the main operating unit of Alphabet Inc. plans to expand their cloud infrastructure, establish a research hub staffed by Australian researchers and engineers, and collaborate with national science agency the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

Google Australia Managing Director Mel Silva, who previously threatened to block Google’s search engine in Australia in early 2021, said the spending plan would bring significant technology resources and investment.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the plan a “AU$1 billion vote of confidence” in Australia, and it would “bring more STEM jobs to our shores.”

During a parliamentary hearing in January 2021, the proposed block was intended to evade new laws forcing Google and social media operator Meta (previously known as Facebook Inc) to pay news outlets for content posted on their websites. The law was approved regardless and Google recanted their statement, instead establishing licensing deals with most of Australia’s main media companies.

The Australian federal government will review the effectiveness of this law in March 2022.  The government also announced plans to hold large internet companies accountable and take legal responsibility for defamation and misinformation hosted on their platforms.

The Australia Institute’s Centre for Responsible Technology commented that the spending commitment made a “great headline” but “simply paying tax on Australian earnings would deliver far more money to Australia”.

“When big tech offers to put money into a nation there are always strings attached”, said Centre director Peter Lewis.

Google currently pays less than 1% tax on Australian annual earnings of about AU$5 billion.

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