Google ploughs $1m into Australian tech education


blog Good news from the Googleplex this morning. Google Australia has decided to take some of the hard-earned money that it’s been piping through Singapore to avoid paying tax in Australia and decided to plough it back into directly funding the development of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills in Australia. You can find the full details on the search giant’s Australian blog here. Here’s a few choice quotes from Google Australia’s managing director Maile Carnegie and engineering director Alan Noble:

“Australia is not keeping up with demand when it comes to graduates in fields like computer science, and when we look at girls, Indigenous Australians, and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, that picture is even worse.

That’s why we will work with three Australian not-for-profits to introduce and inspire 10,000 underrepresented students to careers in science, technology, engineering and maths. These landmark partnerships will put to use $1 million in cash grants from to deliver hands-on training and career programs that will reach these underrepresented groups.”

Your writer believes this effort by Google is laudable. It’s great to see technology multinationals directly funding educational initiatives and giving back to the community. However, we also remain a bit cynical about the whole deal. What would be better — $1 million in educational donations, or the $130 million a year in corporate tax that the Sydney Morning Herald estimates Google is removing from Australia’s tax coffers due to exploiting tax loopholes? We know which we’d rather have.

Of course, as Google has rightly pointed out, this is a matter for Australian policymakers to fix — if the loopholes exist, it is basically under any obligation to shareholders to use them to maximise its financial results. Given this, we’d like to see Australia’s politicians closing these loopholes sooner, rather than later.

Image credit: Robert Scoble, Creative Commons