CEO Sundar Pichai announced on Monday that the company would devote 1 billion Australian dollars (about $736 million) to the country over the next five years.
The funding will partly help launch the firm’s first research centre in Australia, as well as grow the country’s cloud computing sector.
Google also plans to work closely with an Australian government agency on scientific research, which will include projects on clean energy and protecting the Great Barrier Reef. Additionally, the firm will partner with a local university on quantum computing.
Google, which has been in Australia for two decades and now employs nearly 2,000 people locally, said the new initiative is expected to help create new jobs and spur innovation.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison praised the move on Tuesday, calling it a $1 billion vote of confidence in Australia’s economic strategy. Morrison’s government previously outlined plans to transform Australia into a top digital economy by 2030, working to increase its capabilities in artificial intelligence, among other sectors.
Speaking at a Google office in Sydney on Tuesday, Morrison stressed that the plan “doesn’t mean we’re trying to be the next Silicon Valley.”
But he said the company’s program would help create more than 6,000 jobs and add about 6.7 billion Australian dollars ($4.9 billion) of value to the economy.
“Our challenge, as we emerge from this pandemic in a very challenging world, is to secure Australia’s economic recovery,” Morrison said. “This is the challenge we face as we move into 2022, and Australia’s digital strategy is central to securing that recovery.”
Google’s bet on Australia appears to have somewhat reset its complicated relationship with the country’s users and the government in recent months.
The company has publicly disputed the law with regulators in the past, for which Google and both require Facebook (FB) to pay publishers for news content.
For months, Google argued vigorously against the proposed law. At one point last year, it even used its homepage to warn Australians that the proposed, law would harm their ability to search for YouTube users and lead to “results”. At the time, regulators accused the company of spreading “misinformation”.
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Tensions escalated in January when the company threatened to pull its search engine in the country if the law went ahead.
But as the vote on the bill drew closer, Google took a different step. It tried to get ahead of the law by announcing partnerships with some of the biggest newsrooms in the country, including Rupert Murdoch. News Corporation (NWS) and Seven West Media.
Meanwhile, the headlines mainly turned to Facebook, which abruptly banned news content over a proposed law in Australia in February.
Facebook later restored access to those pages after Australia made some changes to the code.
The law was finally passed in February, with media organizations and politicians alike backing Google’s strategy.
Morrison addressed some of the company’s longstanding issues on Tuesday, saying “the fact that Google has decided to invest in the way … [our] partnership.
We have already worked closely with the technology sector on many fronts, and there is a lot that we need to work on, he said.