Has the focus on ‘innovation’ disappeared from the Scott Morrison Government?

Date: August 31, 2018
Author: Lisa Rosenheim
Posted in: Insights

Malcolm Turnbull’s vision to rejuvenate innovation was very clear to the Australian public. In his victory speech, Turnbull stated “the [Liberal governments] innovation agenda is going to help create the modern, dynamic 21st century economy Australia needs.”

Soon after his appointment, Turnbull launched the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA). The Agenda provided an immediate boost to Australia’s innovation capabilities and created a long-term, strategic investment framework.  The Agenda focused on four key pillars, one of which included ‘backing Australian entrepreneurs by opening up new sources of finances, embracing risk and taking on innovative ideas.’

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s first Ministry brings with it major changes for the technology sector in Australia, and for the digital transformation of government. After six days as Australia’s new Prime Minister, Mr Morrison has removed Innovation, Law Enforcement and Cybersecurity from the Government’s latest cabinet. Karen Andrews, who has a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering from the Queensland University of Technology and who was Science Minister in the original Abbott Ministry has been promoted to the role of Minister for Industry, Science and Technology.

The changes are said to have disrupted the agenda that was set out by the previous government. According to Startup Aus Chief Executive, Alex McCauley, not only is ‘a significantly different Cabinet highly disruptive to the government’s tech and innovation-focused agenda, it could delay important reforms currently in the works’. Marta Higuer, Founder of real estate start-up OpenAgent, believes ‘innovation is a long-term investment that requires specific focus. It can’t be bundled with bigger portfolios like Industry, which have a very different set of issues.’

While some argue that that the changes have disrupted the government’s tech and innovation-focused agenda, others believe that Ms Andrews and the Prime Minister will continue to pursue an innovation agenda inside Industry, Science and Technology. Not only does Mr Morrison hold a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of NSW, he has also proven himself as tech-literate while he was Treasurer – with a particular focus on FinTech. FinTech Australia Chair, Stuart Stoyan is hopeful that Mr Morrison will continue to deliver on that policy agenda.

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