Up to 4,000 new Australian standards will be required in the next decade to support the environment, strengthen cyber-security and ensure the smooth transition to alternative energy sources such as hydrogen, according to the nation’s peak benchmark authority.
Launching its Iconic Nation Report, Standards Australia said the 2020s provided unique economic, social and safety challenges, requiring thousands of new standards to lock in Australia’s economic productivity, and keep consumers safe.
For example, Australia now confronts a cyber-attack every eight minutes, costing the economy $33 billion a year.
Moreover, the cost of natural disasters is now approaching $20 billion a year, which is expected to climb to $39 billion a year by 2050.
“The pace and scope of change is accelerating, brought about by the digitisation of the global economy, innovation, scientific breakthroughs and evolving societal tastes,” Standards Australia CEO, Adrian O’Connell said.
“Over the next 10 years, up to 4,000 new national standards will be needed to accelerate the transformation from an analogue to digital economy, strengthen our systems from cyber-attacks, mitigate the impact of natural disasters such as floods, cyclones, droughts and plagues and hasten the expected transition from traditional energy sources to alternative ones such as hydrogen.
“For Australia to continue benefiting from quality standards that improve our way of life, drive economic growth and create safer communities, Australia needs to anticipate future challenges and develop the right national standards for the next 10 years.
“Without the right national standards in these areas, we risk falling behind the rest of the world in terms of best-safety-practice.”
‘This will require the collaboration of experts and the support of governments, industry and civic leaders’
The Iconic Nation Report highlights how standards have helped safeguard the operation of Australia’s $1.8 trillion economy and provided the confidence to safely travel, shop, work and live.
Over the last 100 years, about 10,000 Australian benchmarks have been developed that have helped design and protect some of the nation’s most beloved national icons, such as the Sydney Opera House, Melbourne’s tram system, Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium and Parliament House in Canberra.
Famously the first Australian standard was created in 1922, by mandating what types of bolts should be used on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Ninety years later, the bridge remains one of Australia’s most enduring physical icons.
Of our current benchmarks, the overwhelming bulk were designed by forward-planning teams of experts, thanks to advances in science and technology, and an ongoing focus on solving the challenges of tomorrow.
A minority were developed by learning from largely unforeseen calamities, including the 1970 WestGate Bridge collapse in Melbourne, Cyclone Tracy in 1974, the 1989 Newcastle Earthquake, the 1997 Thredbo landslide and the 2011 Brisbane floods.
“Many Australians may not realise how many of our most treasured national icons are underpinned by Australian standards,” Mr O’Connell said.
“These include the Port Lincoln tuna pens in South Australia, Port Arthur in Tasmania, Central Park Tower in Perth, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Sydney Opera House, Australian War Memorial and Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
“Each of these icons have either conformed to safety standards in their construction or abide by others in their maintenance. Australia would not have these icons without our national safety standards.”
However, Mr O’Connell stressed that as our economy, society and industry move into a new age of technological innovation, thousands of new Australian standards will be needed.
The five key areas identified in the Iconic Nation Report are:
Cyber-security - As the digitisation of our economy accelerates, Australian governments, businesses, charities, and consumers are increasingly likely to be the victim of cyber-attacks. In the 2020–21 financial year, the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) received more than 67,500 cybercrime reports, an increase of almost 13 per cent from the previous financial year, or one every eight minutes.
The cost to Australia was a staggering $33 billion. As a result, Standards Australia is partnering with the Internet of Things Alliance Australia (IoTAA), to develop a Smart Devices Cybersecurity Labelling Scheme (CLS).This will support the development, adoption, and implementation of international cyber security standards.
Natural disasters - The financial cost of natural disasters averaged $18.2 billion per year between 2006-2016, equivalent to 1.2% of average Gross Domestic Product (GDP). That figure is expected to climb to $39 billion a year by 2050. As a result, National Housing Resilience Guides are being examined to show homeowners how well equipped their homes are to withstand natural hazards such as bushfires, cyclones, storms, tides, and floods.
The environment - to help Australia’s transition to net zero emissions by 2050, current initiatives to create new environmental standards including the reduction in plastic waste and the development of reusable materials across a range of industries.
Hydrogen energy - Since signing the Paris Agreement in 2015, Australia has been on the path to emissions reduction, including a $1.4 billion investment in hydrogen. The Australian Government announced in March 2022 that it would spend more than $22 billion on low emissions technologies by 2030, including hydrogen. Standards Australia is committed to working with key stakeholders to develop new standardised safety information collateral and a dedicated hydrogen industry standards portal.
Critical and Emerging Technologies – to ensure that Australia stays at the forefront of emerging digital technologies, Standards Australia is initiating working bodies that cover 5G technology, Quantum Computing, Smart Cities and the broader Data and Digital Landscape. Mr O’Connell said that to achieve so many new Australian Standards over the next decade will require a collaborative approach.
“The journey to build on the strong legacy of the last 100 years of Australian standards cannot be undertaken by Standards Australia alone,” Mr O’Connell said.
“We need to the support and engagement of Australian industries who understand that dedicated standards are a long-term investment in their sector.
“There also needs to be a growing awareness among end-users and consumers of the importance of Australian standards for their own safety and the safety of those around them.
“Working with all our stakeholders, Standards Australia has achieved a lot over the last 100 years. There’s more to be done and as Australia evolves into a more modern nation, Standards Australia will continue to work with industry, government and everyday Aussies to help secure a strong future for our nation.”
Standards now exist across 13 key industries including:
1) Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Food
2) Building & Construction
3) Communications, IT & E-Commerce Services
4) Consumer Products, Services & Safety
5) Education & Training Services
6) Electrotechnology & Energy
7) Health & Community Services
8) Manufacturing & Processing
10) Public Safety, Public Administration, Business & Management
11) Transport & Logistics
12) Water & Waste Services
13) Oil & Gas
 ACSC Annual Cyber Threat Report
 ACSC Annual Cyber Threat Report
 Natural disaster costs to reach $39 billion per year by 2050
 Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience & Safer Communities
 Growing Australia's hydrogen industry
 Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction, 29 March 2022