Fernando Fischmann

Malcolm Turnbull’s vision to rejuvenate innovation

23 September, 2015 / Articles

There is no denying that last week’s leadership spill, in which Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister, caused a wave of excitement throughout the tech start-up ecosystem. It’s safe to say the former communications minister is the darling of the tech sector — and for good reason.

Turnbull is a man who speaks our language, but even beyond tech start-ups there is every indication that he will educate and be a visionary on the future of Australia.

In his victory speech, Turnbull said that disruption was Australia’s friend, and we wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment — innovation is indeed what is going to push Australia’s economy forward.

Australia’s economy is at a critical juncture. We must build an agile, smart economy capable of capitalising on the huge opportunities technology has made available.

We now have the opportunity to work with a federal government towards executing and implementing co-ordinated, centralised innovation policy rather than educating a government on why action is important in the first place.

A recent Committee for Economic Development of Australia report, launched by Turnbull, warned that 40 per cent of Australia’s workforce, more than five million people, could be replaced by automation within the next 10 to 15 years. These aren’t just low-skilled jobs. They are jobs held by highly skilled, highly paid workers.

With Turnbull in pursuit of the same goal and passionate about the same issues, we can only urge him to continue his push to create an ecosystem within Australia where the world’s most promising companies can form, grow and thrive.

StartupAUS has consulted broadly, including with the top 20 companies in the Australian Securities Exchange, the Australian start-up and investor communities, and governments and businesses from around the world, to get a sense of the global benchmark for innovation policy. Talent and capital have emerged as priority areas in need of urgent improvement and we’d like to work with the Turnbull government on fixing this.

Furthermore, we at StartupAUS want to work with the government on tweaking Australia’s visa framework to transform the business innovation visa into an entrepreneur visa and to amend the 457 visa to reduce red tape. Down the track, sustained local growth will be driven by education and a cultural shift towards high-growth enterprise.

We also want to work with the government as it helps to encourage investment in start-ups, thereby making capital more readily available. Elsewhere, including in the US and more recently Britain (with the introduction of the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme), tax incentives are being used to encourage early stage investment. This model provides a proven low-cost means to encourage the market to accept the risks inherent in angel and seed investment.

The tech start-up ecosystem has said for some time that Australia is making progress towards the new economy, but we need to pick up the pace.

Finally, we have faith in a leader who can fast-track the urgent changes Australia needs to make to begin obtaining the skills and know-how that the world of today, and into the future, will demand.



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