Australian Government Chills Innovation

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News in this week that Australia is canning the CommReady Grant programme. For at least two of our clients this will mean greater risk, less employment and less likelihood of being an export star for Australia.

I totally agree that climate change needs investment, but biasedly but hopefully logically as well, the opportunity cost of the shitty chilling effect this will have on the previously blooming Australian IT industry may be disastrous.

Here’s the media release:

“Senator the Hon Kim Carr

13 May 2008

STREAMLINED PROGRAMS AND NEW PRIORITIES CONTRIBUTE TO FISCAL DISCIPLINE

The Rudd Labor Government has outlined a range of savings measures in tonight’s Budget which demonstrate fiscal responsibility and a clear commitment to modernising Government spending.

Difficult decisions have been taken to secure Australia’s long-term prosperity. These sensible and disciplined savings measures will assist the Government’s goal of putting downward pressure on inflation and interest rates.

The Government is undertaking a root and branch rethink of the nation’s innovation system through the review of the National Innovation System which, along with the Government’s white paper response, will provide a roadmap for the next decade.

The Rudd Government is determined to get the policy settings and programs for innovation right and part of that is making tough decisions where necessary about spending priorities.

Savings have been applied to the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). These measures will result in savings of $47 million over four years.

Funding that is no longer required by applicants of the Pharmaceuticals Partnerships Program will also form part of the savings plan.

The Government is establishing a network of Enterprise Connect centres, which will replace the flawed Australian Industry Productivity Centres (AIPC), and the Budget reflects this by formally ceasing AIPC. In addition, the Budget reflects Federal Labor’s election commitment to cease the current National Nanotechnology Strategy from 1 July 2009. These measures will realise combined savings of $169 million over five years.

To reduce duplication in policy and services, the Government will streamline its investment attraction and trade promotion capabilities. The functions of Invest Australia will be folded into Austrade, aligning inward and outward investment functions in the same organisation. Further, a streamlined Global Opportunities program will be transferred to Austrade. As a result, Austrade will deliver a targeted enhanced set of tools to help connect Australian firms to global supply chains. These measures will result in savings of $147 million over five years.

The Intermediary Access Program, announced by the previous Government in the 2007 08 Budget but not yet implemented, will not proceed. Instead, the Government will evaluate the pilot program, which is scheduled to conclude on 30 June 2008, and will consider appropriate support for intermediary services as part of a streamlined national innovation system.

The Howard Government’s Commercial Ready program, including the Renewable Energy Development Initiative, closed to new grants from 28 April 2008, allowing $160 million to be used to offset the cost of the Federal Labor Government’s Clean Business Australia initiatives, and providing savings of $547 million over four years. This will provide the Government with the opportunity to build better support for business research and development, pending the outcomes of the National Innovation System Review.

The former Government’s controversial and cumbersome Research Quality Framework will cease, resulting in a saving of $29 million over four years. The Government will continue to develop the new Excellence in Research for Australia research quality evaluation initiative.

The Rudd Labor Government is committed to building a culture of innovation across the economy and it is time to make significant changes in the way we achieve this.

Media contact: Catriona Jackson, Minister’s Office, 0417 142 238 ”

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