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"High tech Australia" a faded vision

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PRESS RELEASE*i Peter McGauran MPShadow Minister for Science and Technology Federal Member for Gippsland"HIGH TECH AUSTRALIA" A FADED VISIONAustralia's vision of an industrial landscape dotted by sunrise industries has faded as a result of the recession.The Opposition says the Federal Government has been forced to extend two industry research and development support programs because high technology companies have found it impossible to raise funds from the private sector.The very existence of the two programs conducted by the Industry Research Development Board attested to the deeper weakness in the economy and the Government's failure to address the nation's key structural economic problems.The Shadow Minister for Science and Technology, Peter McGauran, said tonight the programs revealed the inadequate development of Australia's manufacturing sector and the virtual absence of venture capital.Mr McGauran told Parliament the Government was legislating to extend the Discretionary Grants Scheme and Generic Technology Scheme to support innovative technologies, which were unable to obtain sufficient capital backing from manufacturers or investors.He said the Coalition would support the legislation reluctantly for this reason.Mr McGauran said the capacity of an economy to mobilise technological resources was tightly bound to its performance level, industrial activity and the confidence of the investment market.Under the Labor Government, however, rhetoric on science and technology had headed off in one direction while economic policy took a different turn."It has been the inability to entwine the two — to allow the technological transfer process to feed off economic activity - - which explains the need for the schemes to continue," Mr McGauran said."A great deal has been said about the importance of building a more knowledge-intensive, high value-added industrial base in Australia."The Government, through its own economic practices, has denied the nation the opportunity to realise that future."C O M M O N W E A L T Hp a r l i a m e n t a r y l i b r a r yM iC A H

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Mr McGauran said prevailing economic policy settings presented a profound obstacle to further investment and mitigated against innovative product development strategies.

He said a more suitable investment framework, in hand with the abolition of capital gains tax and changes to the wholesale tax system, would boost the pool of venture capital for new high technology industries.

"Australia's sunrise companies are too often falling prey to one of two dismal fates.

"Either they are driven to the wall through cash flow problems, or overseas industries move in and capture the benefits of Australia's intellectual property," Mr McGauran said.

Further informations Contact Peter McGauran 06-277 4361

March 11, 1991