Labor Takes A Risk On Start-Ups And Gets The Jump On Turnbull

04/12/2015 3:18 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
Fairfax/Alex Ellinghausen

CANBERRA -- Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has accused the Government of squandering two years of policy development as he launched an innovation plan to invest more money in new business startups and help turn “Silicon Valley into Kangaroo Valley”.

The two major parties are now locked in a battle over innovation policies with Labor jumping ahead of the Turnbull Government‘s landmark Innovation statement on Monday.

Labor Friday has announced it would establish a new umbrella agency for innovation, to be known as Innovate Australia, and significantly, Shorten promised to introduce tax breaks to drive investment, a policy also expected on Monday from the Government.

The Opposition has pledged delivering tax relief for angel investors through a new Australian Angel Investment Scheme and through changes to Venture Capital.

Overall, it is a regional flavoured innovation plan from Labor, which Shorten said was costed at around $34 million.

“Currently two-thirds of all the start-ups and innovations are starting in Sydney but Labor has a vision of Australia come is more than the three large east coast cities of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne,” Shorten told reporters in Melbourne.

The new Labor policies would create a regional innovation fund to kick-start initiatives, establish regional innovation hubs within universities or TAFEs linked to regional businesses and support more Australians in Silicon Valley.

“At the moment there's 20,000 smart Australians who have gone to Silicon Valley,” he said.

“Basically, we’ve got an aspiration to help turn Silicon Valley into Kangaroo Valley where we get the Australians working there and help back them in so they're going to achieve what they're going to on an even bigger stage and that provides them the opportunity come back and reinvest in Australia.”

While Labor appears to have had the jump on the Government over innovation, Shorten said the Government has had its chance.

“Let's face it, the Liberal Party have squandered two years,” he said.

“They've had $3 billion of cuts in research. The Liberals have had two years to talk about innovation.”

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