The small business community has welcomed the federal government’s innovation statement, describing the suite of policy measures as necessary to modernise Australia’s economy.
The government unveiled the $1 billion package this afternoon, trumpeting a reduction in the current default bankruptcy period from three years to one year and tax incentives for investors in early-stage companies.
Peter Strong, executive director of the Council of Small Business of Australia, told SmartCompany the National Innovation and Science Agenda is a “good package”.
“[Malcolm] Turnbull is obviously quite pleased with what the government has done and he should be,” Strong says.
“The safe harbour provisions for protecting people facing insolvency are good. As always, they’ve got to be careful with stuff like that, but the message is they realise innovators are people and people don’t always get it right – but it’s called a learning curve.
“The tax concessions are also a good one, and there’s a focus on regional businesses and there’s a focus on women. I’m very pleased with it.”
However, Strong points out there can be no innovation without fair competition and is calling on the government to push ahead with the effects test championed by former small business minister Bruce Billson.
“That still needs to be dealt with,” Strong says.
“If you stifle competition, you stifle innovation. End of story. Along with that domination issue is the fact that our telecommunications are slow and expensive when compared to other countries. Innovation depends upon being fast and being the right price – otherwise it becomes a barrier we shouldn’t have.”
The innovation statement shows the government understands “the mining boom is over”
Alex Malley, chief executive of CPA Australia, told SmartCompany the innovation statement could not have come soon enough.
“It’s both an acknowledgement that the mining investment boom is over and recognition that our future prosperity – the high-paying jobs for the next generations – will come from knowledge intensive sectors, underpinned by the spirit of innovation that pervades all that we do,” Malley says.
“Backing an ideas boom to replace the mining boom represents a sea-change in thinking and attitude necessary to propel Australia’s future prosperity in the ultra-competitive Asian century.”
Malley says changing the default bankruptcy period from three years to one year is especially welcome.
“It’s particularly pleasing to see reforms around insolvency,” he says.
“The intended relaxation of some of the more restrictive rules are welcome and will go some way to creating a business environment that is more accepting of risk.”
But there is “too much emphasis” on government organisations
Serial entrepreneur and Shark Tank investor Steve Baxter told SmartCompany while today’s innovation statement is “encouraging”, he believes there is too much emphasis on government organisations and not enough emphasis on the private sector.
“In my view, there has been too much emphasis placed on the traditional support for university and education sectors in today’s announcements,” Baxter said.
“Left unaddressed, this will be to the detriment of our global positioning. To compete on the world stage, we need to put the focus on supporting the people with real skin in the game, in the trenches of our startup community.”
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