The Labor Opposition has hit out at the Coalition Government, accusing it of “mimicking” its own policies on startup accelerators.
In a statement, Labor said: “Today, the Turnbull Government finally recognised the importance of investing in regional innovation – and did so by mirroring longstanding Labor policy to help regional startups.”
The party’s comments follow the Government’s announcement yesterday that it would invest an extra $15 million into Australia’s startup incubators and accelerators if it is re-elected in the Federal Elections in July.
The pledged cash would be used to boost the number of startup incubators and accelerators in Australia, attract expertise to provide specialist advice to startups, and create a pool allowing new and existing incubators and accelerators to access “up to $500,000” in funding.
In its response, the Opposition said that, in the National Innovation and Science Agenda, the Liberal Party “only committed” $8 million to help the establishment of regional innovation accelerators.
“However, they have wasted nearly $30 million on an expensive ‘Ideas Boom’ advertising campaign to help promote the Turnbull Government,” the party continued.
Calling the amount “a slap in the face to regional Australia”, Labor suggested these areas should have received more support in their efforts to diversify local economies in the “aftermath” of the mining boom.
Labor further accused the Turnbull Government of “innovation through imitation” with its new pledge, which it says merely copies measures it has proposed within the past year.
While “happy” with the Government’s promise to boost the situation for startups, the Opposition claimed that the proposals to boost regionally based accelerators, create a pool of funds for accelerators, and provide access to specialised advice and support to guide startups, have all been advocated by Labor previously.
“Today’s catch-up by the Liberals shows how out of touch they are by failing to genuinely commit early on to include regional Australia in the national innovation effort,” said Labor.
Last year, Labor announced it would put $16 million towards establishing up to 20 new accelerators over three years if elected.
These accelerators would be “self-sustaining” innovation hubs within universities and technical and further education (TAFE) institutions integrated with local businesses, the party said.
Other measures proposed by Labor to boost the startup scene in Australia include the creation of up to 2,000 new enterprises a year via a ‘Startup Year’. This scheme would provide university students with “income-contingent loans to build new businesses in university accelerators run by successful entrepreneurs”, it said.
New visa categories would also be introduced for early stage entrepreneurs to attract global entrepreneurial talent to help build Australia’s growing startup ecosystem.
Image credit: Parliamentary Broadcasting