Denham Sadler
August 2, 2019

Karen Andrews’ listening tour

Policy

Karen Andrews’ listening tour

Karen Andrews: Sounding out industry on policy initiatives for Australia

Industry minister Karen Andrews will hold a pair of roundtables with high-profile members of the tech and startup communities in an effort to improve relations with the sector and “tackle global challenges”.

It’s part of a promised new open door policy from the minister, with an aim to bring the irate local tech sector back on board with the government.

The wider industry was left angered by a series of policies seen as damaging to the local sector, including cuts to the research and development tax incentive and the introduction of encryption laws passed late last year, along with years of instability at a ministerial level.

The first roundtable, taking place on Friday in Sydney, will feature 20 attendees from startups, venture capital firms and local representative groups. It includes representatives from StartupAus, Blackbird Ventures, BlueChilli, Expert360 and SafetyCulture.

Discussions at the startup roundtable will likely focus on the research and development tax incentive, the potential extension of the Global Talent Scheme visa program and the Assistance and Access bill.

The second roundtable, to be held next Thursday, focuses on larger tech companies, featuring 13 representatives mostly from international firms.

Guests will include the local heads of Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Uber, Amazon and IBM.

This roundtable will likely to discuss the controversial encryption laws, the recently passed “abhorrent content” social media legislation and the ACCC’s just released report on digital platforms.

The roundtables will aim to boost collaboration between the sector and government and look at current and potential policies and regulations, Ms Andrews said.

“I want to hear from industry leaders firsthand about issues and challenges facing the tech sector, like access to skilled workers and the need for balanced regulation,” Ms Andrews said.

“The roundtables will enhance communication between the government and the technology sector to develop a relationship that is mutually beneficial and solutions-focused.”

This year’s budget saw the Coalition again cut the research and development tax incentive, which is hugely popular among tech firms, along with two central planks of its own National Innovation and Science Agenda, leading some in the sector to claim that the government had abandoned the so-called Ideas Boom.

The government is now attempting to focus its tech and industry policies squarely on jobs and economic growth.

“From new startups to large multinational firms, the tech industry underpins Australia’s ability to create and harness technological advances and remain competitive in a global economy. Digital innovation presents a $315 billion opportunity over the period to 2028 to enhance our technology capabilities,” Ms Andrews said.

“Artificial intelligence and big data create new opportunities to grow the economy. Taking advantage of these opportunities will be crucial in reaching our government’s target of 1.25 million new jobs over the next five years.”

Roundtable 1 attendees:

Flamingo founder and CEO Catriona Wallace

HyperAnna CEO Natalie Nguyen
Expert360 CEO Bridget Loudon
SafetyCulture founder and CEO Luke Anear
Daisee CEO Richard Kimber
Myriota CEO Alex Grant
Neighbourlytics co-founder and COO Lucinda Hartley
Indigital CEO Mikaela Jade
Max Kelson CEO Nicholas Therkelsen-Terry
Blackbird Ventures head of operations Alex Apoifis
Square Peg Capital partner Paul Bassat
Startup.business education and program director Liz Jackson
BlueChilli head of people Claudia Barriga-Larriviere
Barayamal founder and CEO Dean Foley
Cicada Innovations CEO Sally-Ann Williams
Airtasker founder and CEO Tim Fung
AirTree Ventures partner John Henderson
StartupAus CEO Alex McCauley
Unifii founder and CEO Stuart Cameron
YBF Ventures chief commercial officer Niels Maartens

Roundtable 2 attendees:

Facebook managing director Australia and NZ William Easton
Google Australia managing director Melanie Silva
Microsoft Australia managing director Steven Worrall
Twitter head of public policy, government and philanthropy Kara Hinesley
IBM attendee TBC
Salesforce area vice president, commercial business Australia and New Zealand Paul Voges
ServiceNow vice president and managing director, Australia and NZ David Oakley
Amazon vice president, country manager Australia Rocco Braeuniger
Uber general manager, Australia and Asia Susan Anderson
Xero managing director Australia and Asia Trent Innes
WiseTech Global CEO Richard White
Macquarie Government national director, government Derek Fittler
MYOB CEO Tim Reed

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