“We’re listening” was the message clearly ringing out from Canberra today.
Except it was being sung by the Innovation Minister Wyatt Roy, and Minister for Employment and Women Michaelia Cash, at a gathering at Fishburners Sydney.
The Women in Innovation breakfast event saw Mr Roy and Senator Cash quite literally just sitting back and opening their ears to the stories of startup success and failure coming from a panel of female entrepreneurs that included 99dresses founder Nikki Durkin, OneShift founder Gen George and Stashd Founder Jess Wilson.
Australia’s ‘First Lady’ Lucy Turnbull opened the event with a few words of encouragement to the founders in the room and praise for incredible female presenters, before handing over to Senator Cash, who paid the ultimate compliment by thanking Mr Roy for simply “getting it” when it comes to innovation.
Mr Roy’s message was also short and sweet, telling those in the room that “the doors to Canberra are well and truly open today, and we’re listening”.
The whole Mrs Turnbull and Ministerial address took no more than ten minutes of the entire 90 minute event. But Mr Roy and Senator Cash remained front row and centre, enraptured in the panel discussion until the very end.
It was a clear sign that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has fired up the troops to go out, gather intelligence, and use it to act on encouraging and implementing ‘innovation nation’.
It is not often the presence of politicians in a room takes a seat to listen and refuses to dominate proceedings.
Julie Bishop’s well documented trip to the US last week, where she used what was meant to be a trip for the annual bilateral foreign and defence talks to highlight this government’s commitment to technology, was another tick to the scorecard for the Prime Minister.
Ms Bishop visited the offices of Google, Microsoft, HP and Twitter while in San Francisco, giving off a distinct message that while she was in the States for various reasons, a chief aim was to engage with the tech sector.
Meanwhile Mr Roy is in Sydney ahead of tomorrow’s Policy Hackathon being held at another startup incubator Blue Chilli, where the idea is to make innovation a centrepiece of the Australian economy.
It pretty much already is.