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Turnbull talks innovation again ahead of policy launch

Monday, 9 November 2015 | By Denham Sadler

The federal government will be delivering its much-anticipated innovation statement next month in what will be the first real test of whether new PM Malcolm Turnbull can “walk the walk” on startups and digital technologies.


In a speech at the Melbourne Institute’s 2015 Economic and Social Outlook conference last week, Turnbull further outlined his approach to the innovation agenda.


“We will deliver next month an innovation statement, a set of policies that will focus on how we attract and retain talent, how we support and encourage startups,” Turnbull said.


“How we, across the government and the country, encourage a culture of innovation, ensure that our children are requiring the STEM  skills that they need, that they have the understanding or familiarity with machine languages that they will need in the future.”


While much of the government’s recent rhetoric has surrounded the large opportunities in the innovation space, the statement will be the first concrete set of policies announced since Turnbull’s ascension to power.


The enormous hopes of the Australian startup sector are riding on the upcoming innovation statement, and many in the community have already put forward their suggested reforms.


StartupAUS recently delivered three recommendations to the government, including income and capital gains tax incentives for startup investments, the doubling of R&D tax concessions and the implementation of the mining director liability exemption for tech companies.


During the speech, Turnbull spoke of the immense opportunities in the startup sector.


“A key focus of our government is innovation,” he said.


“We need to be more innovative, we need to be more technologically sophisticated.


“This is a great era of opportunity. The challenge for our government is to do everything we can to ensure that we enable Australians to do their best, enable them to realise those opportunities, seize that future, confident, optimistic, proud and strong.”


Some of the new policies in the statement will require a whole change in culture and skills, Turnbull said.


“Across the board, we must acquire not just the skills but the culture of agility that enables us to make volatility our friend, bearing fresh opportunities, not simply a foe brandishing threats,” Turnbull said.


“We are surrounded by uncertainties and we have to adjust our course, our tactics, our policies to get there. Agility in today’s world, in a world of volatility is absolutely key and that requires a very significant change to the political culture and political discourse.


“What we are seeking to do is to talk about policy in the same way practical men and women in the business world have been doing forever. What we need to do is embrace change, be adaptable, flexible, innovative.”


To conclude the speech, Turnbull reiterated something that he has near-constantly repeated since he became PM.


“There has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian,” he said.


“We are living in the best times in human history. This is a great era of opportunity.  We are a great nation with a great future.”


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