Ever since Malcolm Turnbull’s departure as prime minister, “innovation” hasn’t quite been the political buzzword it once was. But while it wasn’t a central plank of either side’s election policy platforms in the 2019 federal election, entrepreneurs (and their lobby groups) are hoping that might all be about to change.
Here’s how seven prominent Australian tech industry figures are reacting to the election outcome and what they hope to see from the Morrison Government 2.0. Some were more positive than others.
Jeremy Liddle, SingularityU
“Zali Steggall unseating [Tony] Abbott in Warringah will result in a far less conservative and negative, some might say cancerous, influence within the Liberal Party against innovation, technology, youth, women, and climate policy,” Jeremy Liddle, Asia-Pacific chief revenue officer at Singularity University, told Business Insider Australia.
“If we had seen a minority Liberal government then the independents would have had more influence, however (unfortunately), with a Liberal majority and many of the other conservative Liberals winning their seats it seems the existing rhetoric and policies from ScoMo and [Josh] Frydenberg on energy and climate change will be preserved.
“Labor’s potential reduction to the capital gains tax (CGT) concession was very worrisome for the tech founders who risk everything to build valuable companies. So the fact that a Liberal government will leave this unchanged, and continue to reduce company tax, is fantastic.
“New and growing companies create the vast majority of new jobs, and so incentives are extremely important to encourage people to start and scale up companies. Founders often lose money and don’t pay themselves wages for years before turning a profit, and very few of them successfully sell their business.
“Let’s hope the new Liberal leaders start to place more priority on the startups, scale-ups and technology companies that will drive Australia’s economy forward.”
Rebecca Schot-Guppy, FinTech Australia
“Saturday’s result presents a unique opportunity for fintech, finance and startup policy in Australia,” Rebecca Schot-Guppy, general manager of financial technology sector lobby group FinTech Australia, said in a statement.
“The Morrison Government didn’t set an agenda for the technology sector in its campaign. With no policy promises to fulfil, it has an opening to steer the industry in any way it sees fit.
“We believe the government should use this position to drive forward the ‘consumer data right’ and ‘open banking reform’ [initiatives]. Open banking reform directly addresses competition concerns raised by the banking royal commission, and would provide substantial benefits to consumers. It could be a hallmark policy for the government were it to be implemented early during Prime Minister Morrison’s term.”
Peter Cameron, Giant Leap Fund
“We’re hopeful that this election result will depoliticise startup and tech industry policy,” venture capitalist Peter Cameron, partner at the Giant Leap Fund, said in a statement.
“This election rules a line under the innovation agenda and the knee-jerk political backlash that resulted from it when its architect Malcolm Turnbull was kicked out of office. There’s now a real opportunity for government to underpin the growth of the industries of the future, and the jobs and economic opportunity that will result from it.
“We would like to see a refocus on R&D tax incentives from the government. Despite its cuts to the funding pool in the last budget, we believe the government will see a greater return on investment if it better funnels this fund at emerging companies rather than big business. One easy way to do this would be to reduce red tape for businesses applying for the grant if they fall under a certain revenue threshold.
“A minister for innovation that encompasses startup business, innovation and future technologies would also be a great step forward for ensuring the ecosystem is represented in parliament, as its needs are different to regular small businesses.”
Levi Aron, Deliveroo Australia
“We welcome the federal government and call on them to take a proactive approach to create a modern policy landscape that enables on-demand workers to thrive,” Deliveroo Australia country manager Levi Aron said in an email to Business Insider Australia.
“Deliveroo’s position on this has been consistently clear. We believe that the on-demand economy presents a completely new way of working – one that more and more Australians are taking up.
“The size of the on-demand economy and its contribution to the wider economy shouldn’t be underestimated. We welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively with the Federal Government and other stakeholders to shape the future of work in Australia and secure our economy’s prosperity.”
Yohan Ramasundara, Australian Computer Society
“ACS congratulates the Coalition on its election win and we look forward to continuing to work with both the government and the opposition to ensure Australia has the necessary skills and people required for a world leading IT sector. Australia’s economic success in the future is dependent on a vibrant tech industry,” Yohan Ramasundara, president of peak technology body ACS told Business Insider Australia.
“We’ve heard that every business is a digital business. Every successful economy will be underpinned by a tech sector. We want the government to help make Australian’s ideas evolve into real products and services. We want tech startups to flourish in Australia, scale and expand abroad. We want to remove barriers for their growth.
“Why do we need to support tech-innovators? Because if you look at Google and Amazon, they both started this way and both are now valued at over one trillion dollars. Bezos founded Amazon in the garage of his rented house. We have our own success stories, but we need more.”
Victor Zheng, Assembly Payments
“There’s an argument to be made that the Morrison Government has already hurt the perception of our ecosystem with its rush tech policy reform and its cuts to R&D,” said a statement from Assembly Payments co-CEO Victor Zheng, who was formerly head of payments at Westpac.
“The Morrison Government now has a recharged mandate that excludes any focus on the startup sector or even to support companies expanding beyond our shores.
“However, we have to give the incoming government the benefit of the doubt that they won’t intentionally damage our ecosystem further and will consult with industry rather than reform around it.
“We’re certain the industry is ready to open channels with the Morrison Government and the incoming innovation minister. Let’s hope they feel the same way.”
Chris Brycki, Stockspot and ASIC digital finance advisory panel
“The election shock result is a clear win for investors, with changes to capital gains tax and franking credits off the table,” Chris Brycki, founder of investment app Stockspot and an adviser to corporate regulator ASIC, told Business Insider Australia.
“However, [self-managed] investors and self-funded retirees can’t afford to be complacent, the debate around franking credits shone a light on the fact that too many investors are concentrated in Australian shares.
“As for the Morrison Government’s policies on innovation and fintech it’s really a matter of wait and see. There were no announcements before the election, but technology and policy around the conduct of financial services is central to the economy. Australians haven’t forgotten the mess from the banking royal commission and they will expect to see real change and improved governance.”
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