The Turnbull Government is gearing up to “cut and run” on regional Australia by preparing to ditch a program supposed to support the spread of job creating innovation incubators in our regions.

This year’s Budget saw the handbrake pulled on a $23 million program to help fund the set-up of regional based incubators.

During the program pause the Opposition believes the Turnbull Government will be thinking of ways to deliver a future funding cut, robbing regional Australia.

This is just another sign that the Turnbull Government has not only turned its back on innovation and the digital community - but denied a chance for regional Australia to spur on job creation and economic growth outside our capital cities.

Regional innovation incubators - when supported by active engagement across universities, TAFEs, businesses and local government - have great potential to become platforms for new businesses and enterprises to spring from.

We’ve already seen startup communities form in various parts of regional Australia, demonstrating the commitment of regional communities to generate the jobs of the future.

Because of non-existent promotion of the incubator program by the Turnbull Government the funding take-up has been woeful - with only one regional innovation hub supported in Darwin.

In a few short paragraphs on page 130 of Budget Paper No.2 they’ve crept away from supporting incubators by cutting the program under the guise of “refocusing” it.

Labor took a strong regional innovation policy to the election that committed to funding incubators linked to support provided by regionally based universities, councils and business groups.

This cut means it’s far from an exciting time to be university or business that wants to innovate in regional Australia – they’ve been left out by this government.

The government’s higher education package, released to coincide with the Budget, contained only one measure for regional Australia – a $15 million commitment to eight regional student support hubs across the whole country.

This government doesn’t seem to care much about regional campuses or regional students.

The bottom line is: the Turnbull Government is pulling vital funding from regional incubators but doesn’t have any details on what will replace it.

The Department of Industry admitted to Innovation Aus that a new incubator program hasn’t been designed.

Australia’s innovation community, particularly in regional areas, deserves consistent policy and support from the Turnbull Government, not a stealthy attempt to cut and run.

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