Abbott austerity signals start-up shutdown

Australia's capacity to nurture hi-tech start-ups has suffered a massive blow. 

The Abbott Government’s abandonment of Australia's advanced technology companies and emerging industries puts thousands of jobs in the sector at risk. 

The Government's austerity drive, which cuts $845.6 million from industry programs, will cost this nation dearly and will endanger our burgeoning start-up industries.

These cuts will not begin a path to recovery, as Treasurer Joe Hockey claimed last night. They highlight the deceit and twisted priorities in this budget.

Like the Government's broken promises on education, health, and pensions, they are the opposite of what the Government said it would do.

In his budget speech, the Treasurer said the government's goal was to foster innovative, globally competitive Australian industries. But these cuts make that impossible.

The list of sins in this horror budget includes the abolition of Commercialisation Australia, Enterprise Connect, the Enterprise Solutions Program, Industry Innovation Precincts, the Innovation Investment Fund, Australian Industry Participation Plans, and Textile, Clothing and Footwear Industry co-investment.

They have been replaced with a $484.2 million Entrepreneurs Infrastructure Program – small consolation for cutting the heart out of Australian innovation.

Tens of thousands of companies that will help forge Australia’s future prosperity in a harsh, globally competitive environment have been cut adrift.

Commercialisation Australia alone has provided more than 500 firms in excess of $200 million in grant funding. On average, this program raises two dollars of private capital investment for every dollar of grant funds invested.

Enterprise Connect has helped more than 21,000 businesses increase their competitiveness, and Australian Industry Participation Plans generate up to $6.4 billion of work for local businesses each year.

All these programs were aimed at creating new jobs and industries, commercialising scientific discoveries, and attracting investment in quality jobs. Axing them is short-sighted in the extreme.

As well as the loss of these crucial programs, 1378 jobs will go from the Department of Industry.

In government, Labor put in place a 10-year innovation agenda to create the world's best science and research sector.

That work, and that investment, must not be squandered.

WEDNESDAY, 14 MAY 2014


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