Wednesday, 03 April 2019 11:56

StartupAUS chief describes Budget as a 'missed opportunity'

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StartupAUS chief describes Budget as a 'missed opportunity' Pixabay

The head of Australia's national start-up advocacy group has described Tuesday's Federal Budget as a "missed opportunity" to provide strategic vision on the role that technology will play in Australia's economy.

StartupAUS chief executive Alex McCauley said in a statement that the provision of $60 million over three years for the Export Market Development Grant was welcome.

"The treasurer [Josh Frydenberg] launched his Budget with a message of strong economic management, but gave no indication of his government's approach to the transformational role of technology in Australia's economic future," he said.

"The treasurer chose to focus on the status quo rather than outline his government's strategic plan for transitioning the Australian economy into an increasingly technology-led world.'

McCauley noted that some measures in Budget would affect the start-up sector.

"The increase to the Export Market Development Grant is a valuable addition to the program," he said. "In our latest Crossroads report, StartupAUS called for an increase and improvement to the scheme, and we're glad to see a significant level of additional support allocated towards helping businesses export Australian-developed goods and digital products overseas.

"Given that Labor has also talked about boosting the EMDG, it's great to see bipartisan support of a valuable program. Also, we're pleased to see $3.4 million over four years dedicated to encouraging more women in STEM careers as a long-term measure of support.'

But he said on the downside, the cutting of the Research and Development Tax Incentive continued to leave technology businesses without stability.

"In the 2018-19 Budget, the government responded to the 2016 FFF R&D Tax Incentive review and announced a crackdown on over-claiming of the scheme. One year later, the response to the review has been put on hold, yet startups continue to be hammered by audits while the status of software under the scheme is in limbo.

"Uncertainty here is an existential risk for start-ups, it is critical to ensure that high-growth start-ups are unequivocally welcomed under the scheme as soon as possible. This is an urgent issue and was left unaddressed."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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