The technology sector has welcomed the reappointment of Karen Andrews as industry minister with hopes it will bring newfound policy stability after going through six ministers in the last six years.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Ms Andrews would continue on as Minister for Industry, Science and Technology in his new Cabinet, after she was first appointed to the role in August last year after he took on the top job.
“Karen Andrews will work closely with industry stakeholders to create more and better paid jobs in traditional and emerging industries, and to continue championing science, technology, engineering and mathematics as key career paths for women,” Mr Morrison said on Sunday.
Ms Andrews said she was “honoured” to be continuing on in the role.
“I will keep working hard to promote cutting-edge science, ensure all Australians benefit from innovation in industry and support our technology sector to take advantage of a bright future,” she tweeted over the weekend.
Industry lobby group StartupAus has welcomed the reappointment of Ms Andrews.
“Having continuity in the minister is really valuable. It means less time getting up to speed, more chances to see the growth and value of the sector and more ability to plan longer-term action,” StartupAus chief executive Alex McCauley told InnovationAus.com.
And the first issue that the Minister should address is the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the research and development tax incentive (RDTI), Mr McCauley said.
“The RDTI remains the most immediate concern for Australian startups. We need to ensure that growing software companies who are developing new products and creating jobs are supported under the scheme,” he said.
With the Coalition re-elected, planned changes to the RDTI will likely be re-introduced to Parliament, although in what form is still unclear.
The Coalition first announced a series of changes to the scheme in the 2018 budget, but these were put on hold after a government-led Senate committee recommended a number of changes.
Further cuts to the scheme over the forward estimates were also included in this year’s federal budget.
While there has been a widespread belief that the Coalition has steered clear from tech-focused policies since the National Innovation and Science Agenda in late 2015 and the 2016 election result, Mr McCauley said he hopes the newly elected government will focus on the sector and supporting its growth.
“Morrison made it clear he was looking to run on strong economic credentials, and I think his team will look to support that vision,” he said.
“Startups and technology are powerful drivers of growth in a modern economy and I’m happy to work with the minister and government more broadly to help realise the potential of the sector.”
Mr McCauley said Mrs Andrews “brings a clear passion for science and entrepreneurship to the position”.
“High-growth technology firms will have a critical role to play in driving economic growth, so there’s a lot to talk about. Now that the excitement of the election has calmed down, it’s time to roll our sleeves up and get back into it,” he said.
“Technology and technology policy are increasingly relevant across the width and breadth of the economy.
“We look forward to engaging more broadly across government to help get the settings right to make Australia one of the best places in the world to build and grow a technology business.”