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Democrats to target high-tech innovation

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Senator John Coulter___ NEWS Australian Democrats Leader R E L E A S E

9 July 1992

Democrats to target high-tech innovation

The Australian Democrats plan to give high technology a major boost under a National Technology Strategy, a key element of the Getting to Work program.

Australia's public sector has a proud history of scientific research marked by high levels of ingenuity and creativity, but a breakdown has occurred in turning good ideas into commercial successes.

Private sector innovation has been discouraged by high interest rates, inadequate government incentives, a complacent reliance on commodity exports, and inexperience. The Democrats recognise that Australia must lift its technological game to become competitive and solve our environmental problems.

We have identified several key technology areas to which assistance would be targetted: renewable energy and energy conservation; waste management and ‘closed loop ’ production; biotechnology; information and communications; fibre, food and minerals processing; and advanced manufacturing.

The Democrats would encourage investment in innovation by cutting interest rates and encouraging savings, and by a number of targetted measures which include:

• restoring the 150% tax deductibility of .research and development expenditure, and extending deductibility to demonstration projects;

• granting a one-off $50 million to the Australian Technology Group;

• requiring superannuation funds to invest 1% of their notional assets in approved Australian innovation projects;

• granting a percentage preference to Australian tenderers for Government contracts;

• scrapping tax deductibility for research into coal and synthetic fossil fuels; and

• increasing funding to the Industry Research and Development Board ($45 million in the first year) and the CSIRO ($20 million).

All government programs, including R&D programs, would be reviewed and restructured to ensure they contribute to ecologically sustainable development.

Contact Jenni Mack: 06 277 3646 a/h 06 299 1925 or 018 630 136/7