Atlassian co-founder blasts “stupid” restrictions on research and development

Atlassian co-founder blasts “stupid” restrictions on research and development

As Atlassian prepares for a public listing in the United States, co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes has slammed the Abbott government for limiting research and development.

Cannon-Brookes told SmartCompany putting a $100 million cap on expenditures businesses can claim for R&D is shortsighted.

“It sounds like a stupid change if you ask me, anything that comes from the Palmer United Party is not thought through,” he says.

“Logically it doesn’t make any sense. Surely we want to promote R&D and innovation, why would we want to restrict that?”

Cannon-Brookes says at least the $100 million cap is not as restrictive as the $50 million cap proposed for employee share option schemes

“The employee share option scheme is a good idea and a good move in the right direction but I don’t understand why they have capped that either,” he says.

“That doesn’t make sense to say ‘We believe options are a good way to incentivize employees but as soon as you create a certain amount of jobs you can’t give options’.”

Cannon-Brookes says it’s a bit like saying Facebook and Google don’t need to give employee share options “which I think they would disagree with”. 

“I think fundamentally the government needs to say job creation is really what they want to do.”

Cannon-Brookes says while Atlassian plans to list in the United States the Australian Stock Exchange’s push to get more tech companies to list in Australia conflicts with the government’s policies.

“The ASX push for getting smaller cap tech companies broadly is an interesting idea to fight against the lack of capital in Australia, but it is a little at loggerheads with the new rules about share options that say you can’t be listed,” he says.

“There doesn’t seem to be alignment there.”  

When asked what changes the government needs to make, Cannon-Brookes says the major change is a new prime minister following last week’s unsuccessful leadership spill.

“They didn’t make the one change they should have made but maybe that will still happen,” he says.

“I’m not a huge Tony Abbott fan.”  

Instead Cannon-Brookes wants to see a prime minister and government that is supportive of innovation, technology and entrepreneurs.

“We all know entrepreneurs and technology are the only source of true job growth in the next 20 or 30 years,” he says.

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