Turnbull Government must back regional innovation


The Shadow Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Jason Clare was with the Shadow Minister for the Digital Economy Ed Husic in Rockhampton yesterday to visit Smart Hub – a facility designed to boost entrepreneurship and job growth in regional Queensland.  

Innovation is an important driver of new jobs in regional economies around Australia. The innovative drive of regional innovators has helped inject more than $19 billion into the Australian economy and start-ups could create 500,000 jobs across Australia in the near future.

In Rockhampton wages are down and unemployment is up. Programs like this have the potential to deliver real local jobs.  

Drew Stevenson and Elize Hattin from Rockhampton Regional Council showed how the hub provides an affordable space where people with new business ideas can work next to other entrepreneurs, creating a strong network of talented people to improve each other’s businesses.

The Council is also running a Startup Club to support new businesses and services get to market. It supports a six month mentorship program to help entrepreneurs get their businesses on their feet

Initiatives like this prove how vital it is to support innovation across regional Australia. 

In the last election, Federal Labor championed policies to support the growth of startup communities in regional Australia through the development of a Regional Innovation Fund that would have provided funding to establish regional based startup accelerators like Smart Hub. 

The Turnbull Government – despite talking a big game about being agile and innovative last year – offers little in the way of support for entrepreneurs in regions like Rockhampton  

In the 2017 Budget the Turnbull Government pulled the hand break on regional incubator funding. This is the opposite of what is needed in economies that are struggling to transition as traditional industries such as mining and manufacturing slow down.

Waves of automation are coming and the Turnbull Government needs to invest in regional innovation now to make sure people and business are ready to make the most of future opportunities.