Daily Telegraph 24 October 2019
Australian jobs rely on our ability to innovate.
Unless we channel technology to create new jobs, we lose jobs. The Morrison government has an eye to the future.
That’s why we established a Senate Select Inquiry into FinTech to build on our own ambitious agenda in the technology and innovation space.
Australian technology companies know how to win.
Atlassian, Afterpay and Airtasker have found significant success at home and abroad providing millions of customers with great products and thousands of Australian jobs. Technology driven jobs are not about kids with propeller hats on. They are about farmers using technology to better understand their crops. It’s about medicine, legal, manufacturing sectors and so on.
Technology permeates our economy and to think of technology as a white collar job factor would be a mistake. That’s why I asked the Senate to establish an inquiry into the issues commonly known as “FinTech”.
The issues paper released today highlights five big areas which, if we get right, will establish a Californian/Israeli-style ecosystem.
The five areas are: capital and funding, tax, skills and talent, culture and regulation.
First, Australia needs to create a base of capital for FinTech start-ups. Australia has this pool of domestic capital already. It can be found on public company balance sheets. It may even be inside the superannuation funds which have swelled to be larger than the economy, the federal budget and the capitalisation of the ASX. We just need to incentivise investment into these areas domestically. We also need to examine how we can get the policy settings right to encourage further international investment into Australian start-ups.
Second, we need to create a competitive taxation regime to ensure FinTech companies can move an idea to a business. We shouldn’t be afraid to examine new taxation ideas to incentivise investment. Take the Research and Development tax incentive system, flagged by EY as ‘a key policy priority’ for FinTech companies in Australia. The R & D tax incentive system remains one of the biggest sources of funding.
Third, skills and talent drives capability. Competition for skilled workers is intense in today’s knowledge economy where labour is as mobile as capital. Australia has always been in competition for the best people. That’s how we got Sidney Myer and Frank Lowy. The next Frank Lowy is likely to be smack bang in the FinTech space. That’s why the government has embraced skilled migration initiatives such as the Global Talent Scheme.
But immigration initiatives need to be complemented by continuous investment into education, particularly STEM, to improve the capability of younger generations.
Fourth, Australia lacks a “start-up culture” of Singapore, Israel and Silicon Valley. Government endorsement of start-ups, including policy settings to encourage start-ups to take risks, and even fail, is essential in fostering a dynamic ecosystem.
Fifth, Australian regulation can make or break Australian ideas. That’s why the Morrison Government introduced the Consumer Data Right. The CDR is a world-leading consumer first initiative.
The Prime Minister said when introducing the CDR that “it will arm Australians with the right information they need to seek better deals on banking products and loans, with further sectors such as energy and telecommunications services to be added over time.”
The CDR will support better price comparison services that take into account people’s actual circumstances and promote more convenient switching between products and providers.
The charter of this inquiry is simple yet ambitious — to make Australia globally competitive with nations which have nailed technology for job creation: Singapore, Israel and the United States.
It’s pretty simple. Technology creates jobs.
Senator Andrew Bragg is Chair of the Senate Select Inquiry into FinTech