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Cutler recommends the reintroduction of Commercial Ready

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- MEDIA RELEASE - SENATOR THE HON. ERIC ABETZ Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Shadow Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research

Media enquiries: Brad Stansfield 0419 884 666 1

A0879 9th September 2008

Cutler recommends the reintroduction of Commercial Ready

In a humiliating slap to Innovation Minister Kim Carr and the Prime Minister, Dr Terry Cutler has today recommended the reintroduction of a Commercial Ready style grants program in his Review of the National Innovation System, “venturousaustralia”.

Recommendation 9.1 of the Review is:

“A Competitive Innovation Grants Program should be [re] introduced to assist innovative firms, with limited access to capital, in the high-risk, proof-of-concept and development stages…The program would seek to assist innovative firms annually at a cost of $150 million per year.”

This almost perfectly replicates the former Howard Government’s Commercial Ready program, worth approximately $200 million per year, which was axed in the May budget as a “savings measure.”

While the Opposition does have some concerns about Dr Cutler’s caveats around this program, that it be limited to “national priorities for innovation”, we strongly urge the Rudd Government to immediately act on Dr Cutler’s advice and reintroduce this grants program.

The current absence of such a grants program is severely harming Australia’s innovation economy.

It is also noteworthy that at recommendation 9.7, and again at 12.10, Dr Cutler recommends that the Australian Bureau of Statistics should be “appropriately” resourced. This is a direct criticism of the Rudd Labor Government who cut $22 million out of the ABS in this year’s budget.

There are a number of other recommendations of interest in Dr Cutler’s review, including his proposals to alter the R&D tax concession system; and adjusting the block and competitive grants programs in relation to our universities and other research institutions.

Having only just seen the completed Review, the Opposition will closely study the final document and make further comments over coming weeks.