New South Wales independent member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich, says both state and federal governments are “stuck in the past” and need to do more to support startups. And he’s doing something about it.
Greenwich announced on Monday that he’ll be working out of the Fishburners co-working space in Sydney for the next few weeks in an attempt to better understand the startup industry.
His Sydney electorate encompasses startup hotspots Darlinghurst, Surry Hills and Ultimo, and he is keen to be an advocate for the industry.
“It’s something I want to try and bring more attention to,” he says.
“It’s an industry I’m really keen to know more about, an industry that’s growing, and one that’s really important to the Sydney electorate.”
Greenwich’s first real experience of startups was during tours of co-working spaces in Sydney, including Fishburners and the Hub.
He’s spoken in Parliament of his support for startups, but Greenwich says he desires a more grassroots approach, which is why he’s spending a few weeks at a co-working space, rubbing shoulders with entrepreneurs.
Industry figures say there’s a real need for politicians to better understand startups, and it’s a criticism Greenwich is aware of.
“I think a lot of my State Parliament and Federal Parliament colleagues probably assume that this is an industry that is self-sufficient, which it largely is,” he says.
“But it’s an industry that government support can help grow. A lot of members of Parliament are stuck in the past and they see the way of Australia’s future being more investment in mining. The state government is more likely to give a $10 million subsidy to the racing industry.
“I think the government’s attention needs to shift from the industries of the past to the industry of the future.”
Policy-wise, Greenwich says advocating programs like those in Israel and South Korea – countries where coding has been introduced in schools – is something he would be looking at.
He’ll spend only part of this week at Fishburners as Parliament is sitting, but says he plans on spending at least next week, and the week after, working there.
He hopes the learning will go both ways, and plans on helping startups with any questions they might have.
“I expect as well as learning about the sector, I’ll be able to share my knowledge of Parliament and government with people in here to help people understand how to partner with government in projects,” he says.