Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull joined colleagues and business leaders at an innovation roundtable at Western Sydney University.
Other political attendees at the October 16 event included Industry and Innovation Minister Christopher Pyne, Assistant Minister for Science Karen Andrews, Assistant Minister for Innovation Wyatt Roy, Senator Arthur Sinodinos and the local federal MP Fiona Scott.
Turnbull used the occasion to highlight the importance of innovation to Australia’s future prosperity.
“If we are going to remain, as we must, a high wage generous social welfare net economy, a prosperous economy, then we have to be more competitive, more productive more innovative,” he said.
“The opportunities, whether they are given by technology or by the enormous opportunities from a growing global economy, are all there.
“Our ability to take advantage of them is limited only by our own imagination.”
Pyne said the roundtable was effectively an innovation-focused version of the mini-summit the Government convened a fortnight ago with business and economic leaders.
“This is a similar kind of approach,” he said.
“The Government wants to listen, not just assume it knows every answer before everybody else does and draw as many people into this great crusade around innovation as possible.
“For the future of the Australian economy we'll always have the bedrock of agriculture and mining and manufacturing but innovation, creative industries, start-ups, new technology, these are the new economy and Australia has the intellectual capacity to make the most of that.”
— Christopher Pyne (@cpyne) October 15, 2015
Pyne said the Government would announce “an agenda around innovation and science… towards the end of the year”.
He believed that agenda would “unleash… ideas” that could be commercialised and “enable people to feel they can take risk.”
WSU backs innovation shake-up
The venue – Western Sydney University – has been in the news over the past week, owing to its vice-chancellor Professor Barney Glover’s October 7 address to the National Press Club on the role of the tertiary sector in fostering innovation.
Glover – who is also the chair of Universities Australia and spoke under that guise – said in his speech that there appeared to be bilateral support for innovation among Australia’s two main political parties.
“Both major political parties have decidedly planted their feet firmly in the future,” Glover told the National Press Club.
“We can all hold out hope that the next federal election campaign will be an optimistic contest of ideas rather than a negative battle of wills and ideologies.”
Glover indicated his belief that “the community is prepared to sign-up to the positively framed vision emerging from Canberra.”
“But what does this brave new agenda mean for Australia’s leading enablers of innovation, its universities?” he said.
Glover used the rest of his speech to unveil a policy statement by Universities Australia called ‘Keep it Clever’, which he then backed in his role as vice-chancellor of Western Sydney University.
The statement calls on the Government to, among other things, “bolster initiatives to increase researcher mobility between universities and industry”, increase funding and create tax incentives for businesses to push R&D through the tertiary sector.
“Our policy statement calls for a radical re-think and commitment from Government to create the conditions for innovation and prosperity to flourish,” he said.
“But with Government, universities, industry and the start-up community seemingly in furious agreement on what’s needed, we may be confident not only that we will get through this period of change, but rather that we, as a society will adapt and evolve in a way which benefits us all.”