ONE YEAR ON AND STILL NO INNOVATION

It has been over a year since the Abbott-Turnbull Government announced its ‘Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda’ and business and industry are still waiting to see the results.

The Liberals’ so-called “agenda” is clearly not worth the paper that it is written on.  The agenda’s hollow statements are no match for two Budgets which cut well over $3 billion from science, research and innovation.   

In Senate Question Time yesterday, Senator Sinodinos confirmed that the Liberals still plan to continue with cuts to the Research & Development (R&D) Tax Incentive – proving that their talk of innovation is just empty rhetoric.

Senator Carr: Is it still government policy to cut the research and development tax incentive by 1.5 percentage points?

Senator Sinodinos: I am not aware of that policy being reviewed.

Senate Question Time 14 October 2015

The Abbott-Turnbull plan would see the rate of the R&D Tax Incentive reduced from 40 per cent to 38.5 per cent for large companies, and from 45 per cent to 43.5 per cent for companies with a turnover of under $20 million. 

The Liberals abolished Enterprise Connect and Commercialisation Australia in their disastrous 2014 Budget, undermining government support for the critical link between a great business idea and getting it to market.

Their five industry ‘Growth Centres’ are nothing but a cheap imitation of Labor’s Innovation Precincts but with less than half the funding.

The Liberals cut the Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) program by $107 million in the past two budgets and haven’t held a single competitive funding round for new CRCs.

Everything we have heard from Christopher Pyne and Malcolm Turnbull is nothing more than grand innovation rhetoric.  The fact is that both men were members of a Cabinet that spent the last two years savaging innovation, science and research – to the detriment of Australia’s growth, productivity and small businesses.

In contrast, Labor has positive policies to advance Australia beyond the mining boom by investing in our greatest resource – the creativity and capacity of our people. These include:

  • setting a goal for Australia to lift investment in R&D as a proportion of GDP to 3 per cent by 2030;

  • wiping student debt for up to 100,000 young people who graduate from Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics at university, especially women;

  • introducing 25,000 teaching scholarships for highly skilled STEM graduates to go on to teach in our schools;

  • supporting another 25,000 primary and secondary teachers to undertake professional development in STEM disciplines;

  • establishing a $500 million Smart Investment Fund to back-in great Australian ideas and help them compete on the world stage;

  • working with banks and the finance industry to develop Startup Finance, a partial guarantee scheme which will improve access to finance for Australian micro-businesses;

  • creating a Startup Year at universities so students can develop their idea, get business knowhow and connect with finance;

  • creating two new visa classes to attract the best global entrepreneurial talent to help build Australia’s growing startup ecosystem;

  • building a new platform for government to engage our best and brightest minds in solving public policy problems based on the US Government’s challenge.gov;  

  • establishing an Innovation Investment Partnership, bringing together VC, superannuation fund and startup stakeholders to identify and overcome barriers to investment; and

  • developing a National Digital Workforce Plan.

These initiatives complement Labor’s commitment to secure university funding, which will see more students graduate without the need for $100,000 degrees.

Only Labor is committed to investing in innovation, science and research to build the high wage, high skill jobs of the future.

THURSDAY, 15 OCTOBER 2015