Assistant minister for innovation and long-time startup advocate Wyatt Roy is set to lose his seat in a further blow for the innovation sector after the election produced the “worst possible outcome”.
Roy, a close ally of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and one of the key people behind the government’s innovation agenda, is battling for his political life in his seat of Longman in Queensland, with Labor candidate Susan Lamb looking set for victory with a swing of about 8%.
Roy is refusing to concede defeat and will now be relying on strong support in the pre-polling for any chance of keeping his seat.
StartupAUS CEO Alex McCauley says this is a very bad result for the Australian startup community.
“It is unfortunate to see the potential loss of one of Australia’s great startup champions in Wyatt Roy,” McCauley says.
“Wyatt has made an enormous contribution to the conversation and the bipartisan policy framework around startups in Australia.
“We are much further forwards in this country because of his efforts and advocacy.”
The loss of Roy and the impending possibility of a hung parliament puts the government’s entire innovation agenda at risk, MoneyPlace founder and CEO Stuart Stoyan says.
“The loss of Wyatt Roy is a further blow for startups and the ideas boom, which is looking more like the ideas fizzle,” Stoyan says.
“We hope the loss of Wyatt Roy does not herald the demise of the much hyped ideas boom and support of startups at a federal level.
“Australia is finally making changes that will put it into line with its international counterparts, but this risk of derailment shows even more so that startups cannot rely on politicians to fuel the growth of the sector locally.”
Roy was the youngest ever person to be elected when he won the seat of Longman in 2010 at 20-years-old and was one of the first MPs to publicly back Malcolm Turnbull when he challenged Tony Abbott for the top job. He was soon rewarded with the innovation position and has since acted as the government’s spokesperson for startup issues.
Startup advisor and investor Nicole Williamson says Roy has worked tirelessly for the sector in recent years.
“It will be disappointing if Wyatt loses his seat, he’s an Energiser Bunny whose enthusiasm is real,” Williamson tells StartupSmart.
“He has a lot to offer.”
While enjoying popularity in the startup sector, Labor senator Murray Watt says Roy may have been too focused on this area and neglected his local electorate.
“Wyatt seemed to be much keener on the glitz and glamour of politics, on being assistant minister for innovation, when his electorate was suffering from high unemployment, concerned about cuts to health and education,” Watt told ABC 24.
“I think Labor’s message connected a lot better with the voters there.”
OneShift founder Gen George says she’s still hoping Roy will pull through but he’ll remain a strong advocate for the sector either way.
“If he doesn’t I think he’ll continue to support the innovation and tech space,” George tells StartupSmart.
“Whether he’s in or out he’ll continue to do good things in the space.”