$378 million sounds like a lot of money, right? It’s a catchy headline and looks great on a Sunday press release from Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan and his colleague Greg Combet. Don’t get me wrong, their new $378 million program to foster innovation was a good start albeit several years late.

Invest now and they might run the world

You see the press and the tech communities have been arguing for several years that the local technology ecosystem needs help…and quite frankly Deputy Prime Minister; $378 million ain’t going to cut the mustard.

There are some fundamental challenges domestic startups are facing and many of them can’t be solved with government funds alone. While chucking taxpayer funds at a problem (that is quickly firming as an election issue) might be a tempting solution, what Australia desperately needs is long-term thinking and strong leadership.

This leadership can come from either side of the house; in fact our Prime Minister Julia Gillard went on a fact-finding mission a couple of years ago to Israel to learn how it transformed itself into a “Startup Nation”.

Unfortunately, it seems that her government hasn’t implemented many of the ideas she brought home with her. Investment in startups is only a very small part of how Israel transformed itself into a tech powerhouse, some of the other policies that we are yet to adopt in Australia tell the complete story.

The Israelis have a strong focus on maths and science in their schools, universities and in their military service, which in turn churns out world-class engineers. They have encouraged some of the world’s biggest tech firms (read: eBay, Google, eMC, Intel and PayPal) to setup local R&D research centers hiring and training up thousands of Israel software engineers with global best practice.

The country has investor friendly regulations to encourage domestic investment in technology startups as well as attracting some of the top global venture capital firms to setup shop in Tel Aviv. They also have a robust immigration policy, which sees talent from around the world move to the tiny strip of land in the Middle East… heaven forbid we’d discuss opening our borders to educated immigrants. As a result, many Israeli tech startups think globally from day one and have the largest share of companies listed on the NASDAQ outside of China and the US.

So if I could sit down for a cuppa with our Deputy Prime Minister what would I say to him? I’d start by encouraging him to go out and visit some of our great up and coming technology companies. He could wander through a tech co-working space like Fishburners in Ultimo where hundred of clever young entrepreneurs are burning the midnight oil creating really exciting technology businesses. While I’m sure most of the people he would chat to would welcome this week’s news of additional funding, I suspect Wayne would be exposed to a number of other issues, many that the government wouldn’t be able to solve on its own.

Here are some of the things he might hear from folks at the coalface:

Break the cycle of Risk Aversion

Shareholders often reward short-term profits over long-term strategy, and public boards and companies rarely invest in or partner with startups, as it would adversely impact their risk profile. Similarly Australia’s wealth is locked up in superannuation accounts, which don’t often (or in most cases aren’t able to) invest in technology startups.  Let’s begin a public dialogue to try and surface this issue.

Update our taxation system to encourage technology investment

We need real changes to the way that angels and early stage investors are taxed. Other economies give tax concessions to investors who support startups, allowing them in some cases to write off more than 100% of the investment up front.

Develop a talent pipeline

The Government needs to devote more resources to universities and high schools to encourage our next generation to study maths, science and entrepreneurial courses. We also need to continue encouraging global technology companies to setup local operations. Google started with a lone employee in Sydney and now train and employ 350 odd engineers in their Pyrmont office.

Allow Austrade to help Australian firms enter foreign markets

I have had several conversations with Austrade officials who told me that their current policy direction is to focus on inwards investment rather that support local technology companies seeking new markets.  If this government is serious about supporting Australian technology companies why is our main trade body focusing only on inbound investment rather than outwards expansion?

Shake it up

We need to consider more radical policy initiatives to kick-start our local ecosystem. For example, Canada’s new startup visa gives permanent residency to immigrants who intend to start new businesses in Canada. Singapore is similarly aggressive at pitching to technology companies and technology entrepreneurs, and is starting to see a strong tech community as a result of government initiatives.

While the Government can certainly help foster innovation in Australia (they should have acted that way before the election year), it’s incumbent on all of us to help create the next leg of growth for the Australian economy. When the mining boom invariably ends, we want to have other industries in which Australia excels. I’d argue that given our strong universities, educated population and geographic location adjacent to Asia (which is going through a digital boom), we should be laying our bets on a strong domestic tech sector.

Comments on this post will close at 8pm AEDT.

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    • Zack says:

      06:00am | 21/02/13

      Yes, so true. It al looks like a slap-stick election stunt. Why didn’t Gillard do this in 2010? Probably the same reason she hasn’t fixed the asylum seeker issue problem she created in Nov 2011. The memories.

    • Phil S says:

      08:26am | 21/02/13

      Right, this is all about Gillard. Grow up, please.

      We need a government who will invest in something that will take Australia beyond the mining boom. Otherwise we, as a country, are going to be screwed. Labor have made a good start with the NBN, which should encourage overseas companies to open up local offices, but we need more. I’d love to see the Liberals take some ACTIVE steps to help tech startups, but other than the NBN, we haven’t seen a long term policy from either side.

      This is the problem with our system of government. Governments are only interested in implementing policies which give short term electoral gains. This usually results in welfare increases, taxcuts or random money thrown at education/health with no real plan.

      We have the potential to become a country that provides information services through universities. Complement that with commercial R&D through startups, and we’d be onto a winner. But no, instead we focus on trying to maintain a failing mining boom and sticking our heads in the sand out of fear.

    • GROBP says:

      08:30am | 21/02/13

      Yep. This government is horrendous, just like the one before and the one before.

      Unfortunately it’s all too late for Australia. Our demographic is more geared to selling Australian assets, indebting ourselves with fake investments (housing that suits big business and the government) and living on the spoils. There is way too much dead wood, there is no wealth left, we earn ten times the wages of our competitors.

      .......“tech co-working space like Fishburners in Ultimo where hundred of clever young entrepreneurs are burning the midnight oil creating really exciting technology businesses”.....These poor buggers will never prosper in this country because for every one of them paying huge amounts of tax, they’ve got a dozen houso’s hanging off each of them. In addition we don’t populate with smart people we populate with more of the same. What a disaster that’s unfolding for those kids in the image above.

      There will never be incentive in a socialist country that has spent all of yesterday’s, today’s and tomorrow’s money.

    • GROBP says:

      09:38am | 21/02/13


      ..........“Labor have made a good start with the NBN”..........

      The NBN does nothing. We already had very fast internet, now we’ll have very very fast internet. It won’t change a thing and it cost a ridiculous amount of money.

      The NBN was political, as usual it has nothing to do with what’s good for Australia.

    • GROBP says:

      09:59am | 21/02/13

      Israel ...............http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-01-31/israel-must-pull-all-settlers-from-palestinian-land3a-un/4494736


      We have quite a lifestyle to fund.

    • Zack says:

      05:44pm | 21/02/13

      Phil S why don’t you grow up. You seem immature enough to lump future governments in with this current Labor mess because it makes you feel good about voting for Australia’s worst PM. Your otherwise good comment pointed out what Gillard failed to do. And it is her problem unless you don’t consider her the PM?

    • marley says:

      06:12am | 21/02/13

      Well, I like his second point:  if we must have negative gearing, I’d rather it were on investing in hi-tech startups than in housing.  At least the former has a chance of creating jobs and benefits for the economy at large.

    • GROBP says:

      08:40am | 21/02/13

      Housing’s finished marley. It will collapse with the impending unemployment, underemployment and the HUGE downward pressure on wages that is coming.

      There are graphs I’ve seen that show wages are still increasing but at a decreasing rate. The increase isn’t enough, and I don’t think the trend’s even started.

      This is good news for Australia but watch the government step in and make some ridiculous policy that “saves” (saves them and their mates…but is disastrous for Australia) us.

      Australia will be in depression before the end of the decade.

    • Borderer says:

      08:51am | 21/02/13

      Formalising the process would help.
      Creating a think tank environment where large numbers of developers all work in the same space, imagine a university without the classes.

      Step1 - Pitch your idea to the committee running the tank. Success means you get a year of alloted space in the think tank.
      Step2 - You develop your ideas and interact with other members in the “tank”, work areas are secure but common areas are available if members wish to discuss or even cooperate.
      Step3 - Every three months industry leaders and venture capitalists are invited to receive pitches from think tank members that feel that they are ready to progress to the next stage of their startup. Imagine something like the NFL draft or that awful project runway.
      Step4 - Members with start up ideas are required to tithe their ideas back to the think tank, paying a small percentage of their interllectual royalties. With a reasonable level of sucess the think tank will ultimately self fund.
      Step5 - Every 12 months current members must reapply for their position in the tank, ultimately you don’t want people hanging around using it as a free lunch, committee members are turned over every three years.
      The tank itself would provide a work area, research facilities, utilities etc that you would expect in a corporate environment, the difference being that they aren’t paid to be there and they own what they develop.
      Similar programs could be run in medicine but with longer time frames.

    • Alfie says:

      09:22am | 21/02/13

      “if we must have negative gearing, I’d rather it were on investing in hi-tech startups than in housing”

      So you believe mum & dad investors will pour their savings into ‘hi-tech’ startups over bricks and mortar.  I very much doubt it.

    • marley says:

      09:47am | 21/02/13

      @Alfie - no, of course I don’t believe that mom and dad investors will put their money into risky start-ups. I’m one such, and I wouldn’t put my money there.  But I don’t believe mom and dad investors should get a tax break for investing in housing either, and I do believe that those investors willing to take a chance on start-ups should get just such a tax break.

    • Tubesteak says:

      10:19am | 21/02/13

      Ypu can negatively gear an investment portfolio in shares. Things like margin loans means you can leverage in a similar way you can with property.

      Typically economically illiterate drivel from you.
      There isn’t going to be a decrease in property prices. There isn’t going to be a collapse in wages. There isn’t going to be massive unemployment. We won’t be in depression. You clearly do not understand how economies work. You don’t even have a basic understanding.

    • Tubesteak says:

      10:56am | 21/02/13

      You can negatively gear an investment portfolio in shares. Things like margin loans means you can leverage in a similar way you can with property.

      Typically economically illiterate drivel from you.
      There isn’t going to be a decrease in property prices. There isn’t going to be a collapse in wages. There isn’t going to be massive unemployment. We won’t be in depression. You clearly do not understand how economies work. You don’t even have a basic understanding.

    • GROBP says:

      11:31am | 21/02/13

      Back to the Keynesian text books for you Tubesteak.

      I’ll back my common sense, brains and logic before I believe the stuff the likes of you (our government or any other vested interested party) say, that IS NEVER backed by anything.

      Housing ALREADY is collapsing, unemployment ALREADY is increasing. ALL of my other predictions will all come true as well. It cannot unfold any other way. There are no other scenarios. It’s amasing how otherwise intelligent people can continue to believe what can’t be right.

    • marley says:

      11:41am | 21/02/13

      @tubesteak - I know - I was just making a general point about the relative values to the economy.

    • GROBP says:

      11:49am | 21/02/13

      ............” You clearly do not understand how economies work.”...........

      I’ve outlined exactly why what I’m saying will happen. All you ever say is I don’t know what I’m talking about. I actually do know what I’m talking about I’ve proven it over and again over many decades and have accumulated a handsome amount of wealth.

      Your argument is what; we’ll innovate? All of us will? What with and in what? They’re just BS words that mean nothing. We won’t innovate in anything that will replace all the wealth we’ve squandered in the past thirty years. No where near it. You’re dreaming.

      It’s like the clowns I used to argue with re solar and wind power. I said it cannot provide base load….I didn’t know what I was talking about they said….Well, turns out I did, and I’ll be right with this too.

    • Alfie says:

      11:57am | 21/02/13

      A very large proportion of the housing/unit rental market exists because of private investors. There would be some serious consequences if that was no longer attractive.

    • GROBP says:

      12:17pm | 21/02/13

      Hopefully Tubesteak this graph says it all for you.


      If it doesn’t wave goodbye to whatever wealth you may have. It might turn out to be true that housing will always be up around 8 times wages in Sydney, but wages are increasing at a decreasing rate at best and will certainly come under increasing pressure as the economy weakens. That means more income to service inflated consumer goods, less available income to service debt. It’s a house of cards no matter what angle or what measure is used. You seem to see it differently but never provide any detail. Are you a Labor politician Tubesteak?

    • GROBP says:

      12:38pm | 21/02/13

      :........” There would be some serious consequences if that was no longer attractive.”.......

      Yes. The next generation could afford a house. Either way, housing is in the process of a massive fall.

    • marley says:

      12:58pm | 21/02/13

      @Alfie - I know. I believe Keating tried to do something about negative gearing and failed because of the impact it had on rental housing availability .  That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to whittle it down, because I think it distorts the market and contributes to the problem of unaffordable housing.

    • Tubesteak says:

      01:39pm | 21/02/13

      Keynes would never have said what you say. Nothing in his textbooks even remotely support your theories.
      Peoperty is not collapsing. In fact, in Sydney, it is continuing to increase. This is on top of gains it has been making for years. While there was a slow in growth for 2 years it appears to be recovering.
      You don’t know what you’re talking about. Your statements make absolutely no sense; hence why they can’t be discussed or considered in any rational fashion.
      I’ve given you some insight before but it seems you’re not smart enough to understand it. Even simple supply and demand seems beyond your understanding.
      You can use any amount of graphs from http://www.dodgytheories.com.au you want. They aren’t right.
      You don’t even understand what is “wealth” or how it is generated in an economy or how private wealth is generated in an economy.
      I bet you couldn’t explain why Google or Facebook are worth billions.

    • GROBP says:

      02:40pm | 21/02/13

      ............“Keynes would never have said what you say.”...........

      I’m saying you’re a Keynesian. NOT ME.

      You’re very arrogant in your conviction, I honestly doubt you’ve given anything I’ve said the thought it deserves. That will eventually hurt you..

      I’ve considered all the conventional wisdom and it just doesn’t add up. I’ve analysed it, re analysed it, pulled it apart and re analysed it.

      I’m telling you you’re wrong. Time will prove that, I have zero doubt. Sydney property is certainly not increasing….Please provide a source.

      You’re seriously discrediting Macrobusiness as a credible source. Hilarious. It’s the paper the big bankers read every day…FACT.

      I understand supply demand backwards and know it has nothing to do with what’s going on in Australian property.

      Here’s what I wrote somewhere yeasterday.

      ........“What’s making housing so high is a multiple of reasons least of all is supply and demand. Very easy credit, speculators thinking they can’t go down, negative gearing, land banking by developers, building red tape, building expenses (ridiculous wages ), stamp duties, insurances, council regulations, fire reports, flood studies, regulated scaffolding, geotech reports, engineering reports, inductions, more insurances….I’ve been though it many times it’s nuts….

      Too much of our economy has been leaning on housing. The reason? We don’t do anything else. Now it’s all at saturation Australia will suffer the consequences of being so dumb and letting politicians get away with what they’ve done to us. Remember high house prices are great for government and business. If it’s good for them, you can be sure, that it will always cost you and me. “............

      Good luck Tubesteak you’re going to need it. I wish I were in direct contact with you so I can tell you I told you your views didn’t make sense.

    • Tubesteak says:

      03:49pm | 21/02/13

      Nothing of what you say deserves thought. You make Pauline Hanson seem intelligent by comparison.
      Obviously the conventional wisdom you disparage was beyond you. Maybe you should stick to whatever it is you do.
      Source of Sydney property incresing in value: http://smh.domain.com.au/real-estate-news/early-signs-point-to-a-strong-2013-20130218-2eml4.html
      I’ve worked with and for many major financial institutions (Goldman Sachs, Perpetual, RBC) and NO-ONE read macrobusiness.
      Australian property is all about supply and demand. Funny how you say that and then provide a list of reasons for why it will continue to remain expensive. There is lessening supply because construction is down. Credit will remain cheap. unemployment will remain relatively stable. NG will never be removed and I have detailed why before. Developers will continue to land bank whilst construction remains unprofitable due to local councils gouging them. Red tape will increase. Stamp duties will never be removed. None of this will change. The supply of property will not increase. But considering Sydney grows by 50,000 per month demand will increase. Value will increase as demand increases which means property owners have more equity in their property. This means they can borrow which means demand will increase further.
      My views are backed up by economic research of which I hold undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications. I think you’ve said you’re an engineer: best stick with that and stop embarrassing yourself.

      PS arrogance is a virtue. Not a character flaw wink

    • gof says:

      06:28am | 21/02/13

      “Deputy Prime Minister; Wayne Swan”, has a good ring to it but “Prime Minister, Wayne Swan” has a better sound.
      It’s ironic how you commentators demand change during the tough times (GFC, high dollar etc, downturns in most markets) but during the boom times of the previous NLP/LNP/PIG government when they spent nothing, implemented nothing not a peep out of you.
      Imagine the inroads we would have made if there was a hint of insight from the previous CanDoNothing Coalition government, instead of massive vote buying middle class welfare.

      “and quite frankly Deputy Prime Minister; $378 million ain’t going to cut the mustard.”
      You could have stated with much more aplomb for the previous Coalition government 8 years ago
      “and quite frankly Prime Minister; $0 million ain’t going to cut the mustard”.
      But hey they saved 20 bil and had a surplus, whoopee do..

    • jg says:

      08:13am | 21/02/13

      Prime Minister Abbott.

      Get used to it fanboy.

    • SZF says:

      09:34am | 21/02/13

      jg - do you honestly feel a surge of your own fanboy pride in the words “Prime Minister Abbott”?

      I know he can’t be any worse than the current Lodge resident, but that’s hardly something to crow about…

    • jg says:

      10:01am | 21/02/13

      Nope, I’d rather see Turnbull as PM

      However, ‘PM Abbott’ will seriously piss off blinkered numpties like gof.

    • gof says:

      06:31am | 21/02/13

      “Develop a talent pipeline”
      Start with the opposition and in particular their leader, when they finally develop some talent they may offer an effective opposition.

    • KH says:

      06:36am | 21/02/13

      The government can’t win in this situation - most start ups fail, and for all kinds of reasons.  No one can see into the future, and that includes the government (contrary to popular belief), so some of those funds are going to be flushed away - which then gets beaten up by the media as ‘government wastage’, which discourages further investment from either the government or private enterprise.  The most important thing to change is the attitude - failure is not always a bad thing - not all businesses can be successful, especially in technology.  Many will fail so that a few can be successful - but the successes are much greater than the losses - if you want the future of this country to be more than just a few individuals selling rocks until they run out, you have to embrace failure as part of that process.

    • Elizabeth1 says:

      05:19pm | 21/02/13

      KH I agree. Every time I develop something innovative it always has some problem on the first go. I then do what I like to call a “rejig” to get it behaving like it was first imagined. Not once have I been able to predict every variable the first time. Luckily people don’t have as high expectations from me.

    • LeonT says:

      06:39am | 21/02/13

      Once upon a time the kids good at maths and science went into engineering. Then they realised they could do easier work and make more money by going into finance. In addition, the top maths, science, engineering and business schools are in the US.

      So you’re getting talent drain at the top to the US and talent drain on the rest to an industry known for its lack of innovation. You need to make sure your talent pipeline goes to the places you want it to.

    • iansand says:

      08:18am | 21/02/13

      And, at least in my generation, those kids who did engineering discovered that their maths and analytical skills were valued by the finance industry a lot more than by engineering firms.  I can’t think of a contemporary of mine who did engineering at uni practisinbg as an engineer 10 years after graduating.

    • sunny says:

      02:25pm | 21/02/13

      Ah let ‘em go - it just means more beer for the engineers who stay. Best of luck to them trying to have the same fun at finance people parties.

    • Alice Smith says:

      06:54am | 21/02/13

      This smells like an elction bribe rather than a caring, concerning plan for Australia in the long run. PM Gillard has had years to make this a significant part of her ‘moving fwd’ plan and she hasn’t. Australia needs to develop economically but it isn’t going to happen overnight. It isn’t going to happen with money thrown at it without a plan (the usual AP modus operandi).

    • gof says:

      07:50am | 21/02/13

      #Alice Smith,
      “This smells like an elction bribe rather than a caring, concerning plan for Australia”
      As opposed to handing out billions in Middle Class Welfare to right wing scabs! At least this policy goes to the foundations of creating jobs and wealth within the community.

      And what will Abbott do?  Coalition is for big business, not small, ask any small operator or start-up or sole trader about the 80/20 rule or the 5 trips to the Accountant every year for BAS / Tax Returns etc.. The bureaucracy created by the previous NLP government cripples small businesses not helps it.

    • Mr Sam says:

      11:25am | 21/02/13

      gof! I didn’t know that in the last 6 years the ALP has removed the billions in Middle Class Welfare to right wing scabs! Wowee, do the reporters around the country know about this? You must phone and tell them! Quick before another ALP Minister resigns!

    • Bris Jack says:

      07:07am | 21/02/13

      It’s all a lot of labor spin and B S

    • Big Jay says:

      07:51am | 21/02/13

      Good article. I’m generally all for things that encourage entrepreneurial endeavour. SO by and large agree with everything in the article.

      But, a few points;

      “Break the cycle of Risk Aversion”...Apart from Superannuation, which is unable to go into start-ups, our next biggest wealth-sapper is housing and noone wants anything to do with this problem. Our approach to risk, is a national culture that even the govt would have a hard time changing.

      “heaven forbid we’d discuss opening our borders to educated immigrants.”...Net inbound migration is at record highs, this is skilled migration not assylum seekers. It can’t get more open than it is now, however, I’d suggest we re-examine what kind of “skills” we’re after.

      “Google…now train and employ 350 odd engineers in their Pyrmont office.
      “...I’m sure they’re not all “odd”! smile

    • Neil says:

      08:35am | 21/02/13

      95% of start ups fail. So one has to mention that.

      Also there’s not much point in getting into IT when you can make just as much if not more doing easier stuff, which most likely will also provide for a better social life. So imo you’re simply not going to attract many kids into it given these factors in this country.

      I don’t know how much Israel pays it’s other jobs, but in America it’s often half, where as IT gets paid much the same as here.

    • Brett says:

      10:38am | 21/02/13

      Neil, am I right to understand that you are saying that taking the path of least resistance is better because it is easier?

      If so, it’s that kind of attitude that is the reason why most startups fail and why you shouldn’t be commenting on an article about entrepreneurial investment and changes in mindsets towards investing in startups.

      Hard work and effort is just as much as reason for success as a good idea and so you know jobs in American dont pay half in the industry this article is talking about - in fact it pays double.

    • Neil says:

      11:44am | 21/02/13

      God help me. Another one.

      You’re asking Australians to not take the path of least resistance. That’s funny.

      Maybe 95% of start ups fail because the idea sucks or it doesn’t make much money? 95% of normal businesses fail too.

    • GROBP says:

      09:32am | 21/02/13

      ..............“When the mining boom invariably ends, we want to have other industries in which Australia excels. I’d argue that given our strong universities, educated population and geographic location adjacent to Asia (which is going through a digital boom), we should be laying our bets on a strong domestic tech sector.”...........

      So we’re going to develop stuff here, while earning wages ten times as much and sell it to smarter, harder working Asia? Not going to happen in any meaningful way.

      What is going to happen is that the deluded population of Australia that has put all it’s eggs in this basket will get the wake up call unprecedented in the modern world.

      We have now sold all our assets, and therefore our advantages, we have populated instead of depopulated and now we’re all going to become smarter, harder working, all on a tenth what we presently earn? I don’t think so.

      There might be tiny cohorts of people like this here, but it’s not the norm and cannot possibly go anywhere near sustaining the whole lot of the bludging herd.

      Like I’ve said, Australia will be in depression before the end of the decade. Recovery will be near impossible.

    • Bob Stewart the Elder says:

      09:44am | 21/02/13

      The energy from hot rocks? An Israeli firm, Ormat, at one time exploring the potential of Mt Makiling, an extinct volcano near Laguna de Bay, a large freshwater lake south of Manila. .As the insurers engineerin rep on the site to undertake a risk survey. The process involved the pumping of the very hot brine from the deep through a heat exchanger on the surface to vaporize pentane. The energy thus released was more than adequate to drive 2 x 50Mw generators at the surface, A closed circuit.

      The brine now cooled returned to the deep and the pentane now a liquid having expended its energy as a gas pumped back into storage.
      Google Ormat at you will know far more than a politician.
      The thousands of tonnes spewing on the hour into the atmosphere from the bushfires and the Combet carbon tax is another matter.

    • Robert S McCormick says:

      09:55am | 21/02/13

      Gillard went to Israel on a “fact finding” junket to find out how Israel turned itself into a “Start-Up Nation”??
      Did she and why are only now hearing about it? Exactly what ideas did she bring back & just how many, if any, of them were brought to fruition?
      Isn’t that part of Gillard’s problem? She flaps off on some taxpayer-funded junket & that’s the last we hear of it. If she does manage to bring back other people’s ideas (can’t she have any of her own?) like so much of what she & her rabble keep blathering about simply remains that: Blather
      How about actually bringing something to a satisfactory conclusion?
      She plans to pay for this Great New Leap Forward by scrapping one of the very programmes introduced to encourage Research & Development within Industry!!! That’s where she is getting the $378 million from and then she is expecting those same Industries to cough-up $622 million so that she can then claim a $1,000,000,000.00 programme. They really must think the rest of us are as idiotic & stupid as we think they are. Think again, Gillard, think again.
      It’s all moot anyway, isn’t it? For even if we are cursed with another ALP term they, as they have done with practically every other promise, will simply abandon the entire plan.

    • AdamC says:

      10:07am | 21/02/13

      The author’s comments about Australia’s immigration system are pretty outlandish. We are one of the most open countries in the world to educated migrants.

      More generally, I am all for promoting entrepreneurialism, but a focus on tech is misguided. The government should not be picking winners among industries. Lavishing public funds on tech is little different from subsidising automotive manufacturing.

      Not to mention, backing tech startups is the investment equivalent of buying lottery tickets. It is very unlikely that the next Facebook or Google will come out of Australia.

      Governments should focus on making Australia a competitive place to do business for all industries.

    • JTO says:

      10:17am | 21/02/13

      Reading this while working for a startup, after being made redundant when the previous startup I worked for went under, the policy seems like total crap. There are two issues at play here. Firstly the extra load required to administer a government R&D grant is often more than a startup running the ragged edge can afford. Secondly, accepting government money under the current terms restricts innovation which leads to startups not being able to be agile enough to change with the technological changes happening around them. e.g. Bluetooth may have been good enough not so long ago, but if you’re not playing with Wifi now, don’t bother.

      As for the talent pool, the issue here is that the only people that are happy being software engineers are the ones that see it as a calling and couldn’t in good conscience do anything else. It’s a game of long hours, intense concentration, ridiculous deadlines, for what is essentially only a reasonable wage. Let me put it this way. German engineering is a byword for excellence. In Germany, Engineer is a title, like Doctor. We give our engineers no respect (often referring to them as working in IT). Start there and see how the pool just magically grows.

    • Jax says:

      12:34pm | 21/02/13

      Of all my friends who I went to Uni with (studying varying courses from Computer Science/Advanced maths/Software Engineering) I am the only one still working in IT.  The others have had enough of the long hours/24/7 requirements/etc and switched to Trades/Teaching/Handy-man/Bar-manager - sometimes jobs that require no formal qualification (except maybe a few ‘tickets’ which are more of a pay for a licence than learn a qualification type of thing) and earn the same if not more money and have spare time for a ‘life’.  Why study difficult courses and go into a high stress jobs when you can earn more money in other industries for less effort.  The government continues to undermine our IT talent by keeping IT as a skills shortage 457 visa approvable career, thus keeping local wages (and interest in the field from local talent) low..

    • av boffin says:

      03:40pm | 21/02/13

      Yeah, look what the unions have helped do to Australia. Why aim to be highly educated and specialised when you can earn such great money doing menial tasks once you purchase a few ‘tickets’.

    • Greg McBean says:

      01:21pm | 21/02/13

      How true is this article….look forward Australia.

    • expat says:

      02:37pm | 21/02/13

      Australia will never attract entrepreneurs unless a radical change in the business environment occurs. We are all looking for an environment that is pro start up and pro business, not an environment which is over regulated and over priced.

      I’ve personally seen an individual with a brilliant idea look for funding, however this individual was not prepared to develop the technology outside of the country, the VC’s would not touch it unless they were prepared to take the idea offshore.

    • Ian Biner says:

      02:49pm | 21/02/13

      Oh, for God’s sake people… this isn’t a Liberal/Labour issue.  Put your petty politics back in your pockets and focus on the main game for just a minute.

      This is a culture problem.  In the United States, in Israel, and in any other country that enjoys a thriving tech sector, there is no shame in failure and investors are prepared to take a risk.  They see value in “ideas” and the concept of “skin in the game” doesn’t matter as much as “potential”.  Unlike in Australia, there is a recognition that people with big ideas are often the least equipped to have the money to make them real.  It’s a marriage between intellect an capital, a marriage that, everywhere it’s tried, works. 

      In Australia, that rarely happens.  We have to develop a culture here that says “it’s ok to fail… learn from it.”  We have to have companies taking on “risky executives”... people with vision.  In the USA, these are the most sought after personalities by companies going places.  Here, they don’t even get an interview.  (Hand in hand with that, we need a recruitment industry that puts risky candidates forward.  They don’t, because that might threaten their fees.)

      Second, we have mind numbingly stupid bureaucrats in this country, bureaucrats who have a deeply ingrained culture where “process” has absolute supremacy over “outcome”.  The don’t look at consequences, and when they run out of barriers to put in our paths, they go out of their way to create more.  Often, those new barriers are in the interests of “simplification” and “standardisation”, two concepts that are also deeply ingrained.

      Finally, we have politicians who put self and party ahead of the national interest; politicians who can only think as far as the next election.  We’ve allowed them to do that because as a population, we’re not engaged in the process. 

      Which brings me to the fourth issue… No-one goes to the pub to debate politics with their mates, and any mate who brings it up, or indeed brings anything up that’s not sport and therefore requires more than three neurons to talk to each other, is an outcast in this society.  We have to change.  We have to teach our children that displaying intellect, imagination and creativity is not a mortal sin.  We need to be actively debating ideas, actively participating in political discourse and aggressively lighting the fire of imagination across the nation.

      Sadly, none of the above will happen.  This is, after all, Australia, where the front page of the newspaper is occupied by a story about a “shocking” investigation into some imagined “connection” between someone in sport and someone who knows someone who knows someone else who knew a Hell’s Angel once.

      It all just makes me bloody angry, and it should make you bloody angry too!

    • Elizabeth1 says:

      05:53pm | 21/02/13

      I agree with you. Except the angry part. Waste of time. But I would love to see Australians getting excited about fresh ideas and new ways of looking at things. Taking some risks maybe having some fun and we are smart enough to pull it off. We just need a slight shift in mind set.

    • Rob says:

      03:15pm | 21/02/13

      Jonathon, are you kidding me when you say the Israelis have strong emphasis on the maths and sciences.

      The point in Australia Jonathon is that males perform better in the maths and sciences so we can’t have any emphasis on those subjects to produce better enguneers because that would go against our feminist drenched ideology leading to ‘policy’.

      The short of the story is we retard ourselves by being hoodwinked on feminist endorsement , or confrontation avoidance.

      You have been warned for decades on the bleedin’ obvious.

    • Jamo says:

      03:39pm | 21/02/13

      Is this suggesting that our government should support Australians with Australian ideas. Yeah right, most of the smart Australians are already working for off shore companies because there aren’t enough local companies to employ them.  That’s probably got at least a wee little bit to do with our government selling the country and it’s people out. Julia gillards lot aren’t entirely to blame because little Johnny Howard had a fair crack it for 11 years prior to that. But jeez he was good at achieving a surplus ( which in layman’s terms is taking more off the people than you give back ) unfortunately he couldn’t build us a national freight line which would have been good for the country and could of kept at least a few people employed. Short sighted governance has been rife for years, when and more importantly who is going to change that ? I suspect it isn’t Julia or Tony

    • Victor Jiang says:

      05:14pm | 21/02/13

      Couldn’t agree more!!  Sentiments also echoed in my blog just few months ago: http://lnkd.in/3U2zxy

    • Elizabeth1 says:

      05:39pm | 21/02/13

      I believe we need a melding of the maths sciences and creative arts to really start innovative ideas. I also think the idea of learning curves is important to grasp rather than out right failure when things don’t work according to plan. Edison’s light bulb quote comes to mind.


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