news Newly appointed Minister for Innovation, Industry and Science Greg Hunt has defended the government’s emphasis on innovation after its Federal Election campaigning on the issue was described as a “flop”.
Hunt’s comments were in response to a journalist when making his first press conference as innovation minister at Questacon, the National Science and Technology Centre in Canberra.
The journalist asked Hunt: “Do you acknowledge the criticism during and after the federal election that the theme of innovation was a bit of a flop for the Turnbull Government and scared a lot of voters – do you agree with that?”
Defending Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s stance on the subject, Hunt stressed: “I think innovation is incredibly important.”
“Innovation matters for everybody because it’s about productivity – and that’s about more jobs, better jobs, better wages, and more profitability,” he went on.
Earlier in his conference, Hunt had set out his vision for innovation and science as a “critical driver of productivity in Australia”.
“[T]his is about saying that science matters, that innovation matters, that the National Innovation and Science Agenda is fundamental not just to the future but to now,” Hunt said. “At the highest level, the Industry, Innovation and Science portfolio is about creating jobs and giving people a sense that they have a long term job future in this country.”
Sixty per cent of Australia’s productivity “comes from innovation”, Hunt told the audience, adding that businesses “often feel that it doesn’t apply to them”.
“It does,” he stressed.
Previously Environment Minister, Hunt was moved to the innovation portfolio in the Prime Minister’s cabinet reshuffle following the recent Federal Election.
When asked if he had requested the move, the minister said: “My approach has been to work with the Prime Minister and to indicate that I loved the portfolio I was doing, because that was about science and innovation, but I’d be delighted to take this up as a broader possibility.”
Saying that he was “very relaxed about those different roles”, Hunt added: “I could not be more thrilled about what we’ve achieved in the environment space”.
“We have laid out a foundation which I believe will be the structure for Australia’s climate and reef policies going forward over decades and will stand the test of time,” he said.