Peter Verwer on global business and talent attraction

Peter Verwer

The Global Business and Talent Attraction Taskforce was born in the dark days of COVID-19 and had four jobs. The first was to harvest the world for its brightest minds and talents in future-facing sectors and technologies. The second was do the same with pioneering firms.

The third was to advocate for a smarter regulatory environment – pro enterprise, pro research and pro risk-taking. The final job was to make a bold, full-throated case for Australia to the rest of the world.

Visas are apps for moving talent capital from other countries to Australia.

The Global Talent visa was devised to give Australia a competitive edge in attracting talent by offering permanent residency and fast processing. Visa applicants need to prove they are exceptional and can help boost Australia’s prosperity.

FIRB rules
Getting talented people on planes to Australia. Photo credit: Eigenblau /

Is it hard to assess if people are exceptionally talented? No more than evaluating someone for a job. Plus, there are built-in safeguards as individuals must still meet character, medical and security tests, all of which are assessed by Department of Home Affairs officers, not the Taskforce.

More than 20,000 Global Talent visas have been issued since the startup phase of the program. This includes partners and kids, which is another reason talented individuals love this visa.

The program could easily have tripled the number of visas issued. However, the focus was to attract exceptional individuals who can work with home-grown Aussie talent to reap the benefits of the fourth industrial revolution.

By accelerating the growth of smart ecosystems, the nation can offer a greater choice of local jobs and stem the brain drain.

This is why the Taskforce also engaged pioneering global firms and employers rather than waiting for random businesses to knock on our national door.

Is this picking winners? I’d say it’s more like inviting winners. Our approach was to talk directly with global CEOs about Australia’s attractions and to explore critical investment issues, such as government policies, tax, incentives, research hubs and access to skilled labour.

This is where a Taskforce that works hand-in-glove with multiple federal government agencies and regulators as well as all states and territories can help speed-up corporate decisions.

The result has been thousands of new Industry 4.0 jobs with many more to be announced in in the coming months.

Direct engagement also led to clearer insights into outdated policy rules and regulations that crimp Australia’s international competitiveness.

The Taskforce successfully championed reforms to the Employee Share Scheme tax rules, long a bug bear of entrepreneurs, especially startups.

It also went into bat for a 30 per cent Digital Games Tax Offset. Canada’s digital games industry is 22 times larger than Australia’s and it generates a production line of creative talent that feeds its digital economy. As of July 1, Australia is equally attractive.

Many policy issues tackled by the Taskforce addressed regulatory pinch points. There are thousands of government rules that never anticipated decentralised finance or clean energy transport, let alone revolutions in quantum computing, AI, cyber sciences and nanotechnology.

There’s much more work to be done here, especially with a new federal government looking to achieve an ambitious agenda.

A starting point would be root and branch reform of the 1800 different grant programs that make up Australis’s $70 billion bucket of business and research incentives.

Finally, the Taskforce launched, a website that makes the case for Australia as magnet for talent, capital and ideas.

Check out the ticker at the top of the website home page, which showcases Australia as a world-beating innovator in dozens of arenas. Or explore the women in STEM programs and many extraordinary stories of women researchers, industry pioneers and inventors threaded through the website.

A video gallery of the nation’s great (mostly unsung) inventors and a guide to more than 3,000 research and innovation hubs will be added in the coming days. You can also review the profiles of recent talent visa recipients that any country would give its eye teeth to snare.

The Taskforce operated like a startup. It experimented with novel approaches to entrenched problems.

Above all it drove a clear strategy to help build future-facing ecosystems with global talent, pioneering firms and by telling Australia’s astounding success stories to the world.

There is tremendous goodwill to make the most of a new federal government and new era of opportunities. The Taskforce’s many successes provide the impetus for even greater efforts on all fronts.

Peter Verwer AO recently retired as Special Envoy for Global Business and Talent Attraction and Deputy Secretary in the Department of Home Affairs. The current Taskforce wraps up on 30 June.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

1 Comment
  1. Digital Koolaid 2 years ago

    For starters guys, this isn’t “Australia’s Got Talent”. We’re professionals – not performing seals. This isn’t Johnny Young at the recruiting outfit leading Young Talent Time. This isn’t a wheat farm where we “harvest the world for its brightest minds and talents”. This is a country where we can have confidence in our own. We can create a new generation of the “best and brightest” (remember that old DTA slogan?) and replace the traitors who think all the clever people were born in other countries. Yes, let’s advocate for a smarter regulatory environment – pro enterprise, pro research and pro risk-taking – that’s PRO-AUSTRALIAN. We have “talent capital” right here. It speaks Australian. It understands Australian culture. It loves Australia and already has “permanent residency” – because it lives here, has its kids here and makes the future here. No visa needed because it has an Australian birth certificate. If you have an argument for giving the job to some ”exceptionally talented” foreigner instead of an Australian I’d like to hear it. Someone sees Australia as a “magnet” for talent, capital and ideas ??? Nah, don’t need a magnet – we have our own people right here. Buy Australian. Employ Australians. Educate Australians. Pick winners – pick Australians.

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