By Mike Sullivan >>

AN INTEGRATED food and energy agribusiness project, storing overflow water from abundant Cape York river systems, looks like trailblazing a pathway to sustainable development for Northern Australia.

The Etheridge Integrated Agriculture Project (EIAP), based around the Einasleigh and Etheridge Rivers integrates deep lake water storage with cattle pastures, sugar, guar bean and stock feed production, electricity generation from bagasse, and aquaculture. 

The project is the brainchild of a group of Queensland business leaders: chemical engineer and manufacturing and resources specialist Stewart Peters; water harvesting specialist John Grabbe who was joint managing director of Australia’s largest private irrigator Cubbie Group Ltd; infrastructure finance specialist and InterFinancial director David Hassum; and former Queensland Treasurer and Macarthur Coal chairman Keith De Lacy.

Their company, Integrated Food and Energy Developments (IFED), is currently raising funds to commence work in 2017.

If their EIAP development is successful – and Mr De Lacy believes with its versatility in production and foundation of sustainability it is probably the most bankable agribusiness project in Australia – then it will be a model for further development in Northern Australia.

“Developing Northern Australia has been a challenge for the last 100 years,” Mr De Lacy said. “There has been some major development in resource projects from time to time. The beef industry, of course, is spread right through Northern Australia. On the coast there is the sugar industry, other horticultural industries as well as tourism.

“But most of Northern Australia is poorer now and has less population than what it had 50 or 100 years ago. Therein lies the challenge.”

ETHERIDGE INTEGRATED AGRICULTURE PROJECT (EIAP)

The Etheridge Integrated Agriculture Project is founded on 65,000 hectares of irrigated cropping on the Far North Queensland in the Etheridge Shire, in the southern Gulf country, with cattle on a further 200,000ha and aquaculture incorporated. It is underpinned by the development of a series of gravity flow deep water lakes which store water away from the river system itself. In total, there will be 18,000ha devoted to deep water storage, minimising evaporation.

“This, in my view, is the way to get high intensity agricultural projects going in Northern Australia,” Mr De Lacy said.

“We are going to harvest mostly from the Einasleigh River (north of the Etheridge River) but it flows into the Gilbert, so it is part of the Gilbert system. There is a fairly natural water storage area quite close, so it’s just gravity diversion. The first storage is 1.6 million megalitres, which is about the size of Wivenhoe and has an average depth of 14 metres which makes it highly efficient. We will gravity feed it down to a smaller one in the cropping area which has got 400,000 megalitres. So that is about 2 million megalitres we would store.” 

“On 100 years of river flow data, we would have got a full crop every year. So it is 100 percent sustainable. That’s because we are storing about four times what we need.”

The products of the EIAP are also an innovative mix of sugar, guar gum (from the guar bean legume), meat and electricity from the sugar bagasse.

The project generates its own power and exports electricity to the grid. There is also a supply of sugar for possible ethanol production.

Mr De Lacy said guar is used as a food thickener and also has a special use in the shale fracking process. “That sort of underwrites its price and volume,” he said.

The EIAP will also produce about 400,000 tonnes of stock feed a year.

“Which then means we can run a meat processing plant because we can feed the stock in the off-season,” Mr De Lacy said. “There is a million cattle in that region, but they all lose weight in the off season, so they stop going to abattoirs, and because abattoirs only work eight months of the year they are never viable. With our stock food we can get 12 months supply.

“We produce all of our own electricity and some – it’s all bagasse, it’s all coking. We justify the capital spend on the co-gen (power co-generation) by what we can sell into the grid. The rest of it we use ourselves – it is effectively free to us.”

WASTE-NOT WANT-NOT

Another EIAP innovation is the utilisation of lake-fed ponds for the production of redclaw, a crayfish native to the region.

“But we also found that the wastewater from our processing plants, the sugar mill and the abattoir and so forth, we feed in to an anaerobic digester, which creates methane, which is energy, but what is left in the water is a sort of a carbohydrate enzyme which is food for redclaw,” Mr De Lacy said.

“So we effectively feed them for free. We are only using the water one more time and, when they are finished with the water, we use it for irrigation and they actually add nutrient to the water which helps the irrigation as well.

“We did a quick exercise on that and we would produce 7500 tonnes of redclaw, which is worth $100 million. And that is just an add-on. As is the abattoir.”

Because of the backgrounds of the IFED founders, the plan to integrate processes, as they flowed from having a sound water supply, drove the decisions on the eventual production mix.

“The reason our project works so well is its scale to start off with,” Mr De Lacy said. “You have got to be big enough to do your own processing, in those isolated regions.

“Our project is a billion dollars of production each year and 1000 employees.”

IFED has secured agreements with the four required properties in the region and is concurrently conducting both environmental impact studies and fund raising.

“The environmental assessment process is the main part, to ensure sustainability,” Mr De Lacy said.

“We are confident, as we are only proposing to use only 10 percent of the river flow. We will be subject to the most rigorous environmental assessment program that any project has ever been subjected to. But we are confident about it. We have done a lot of work and a lot of science on it.”

As a showcase for what might be achieved in terms of sustainable development in Northern Australia, the project has attracted initial support from both the Federal Government and the Queensland Government.

“In round terms, the value of our production is around $1 billion (a year), and our profit each year is around $350 million, so there’s $600 million in consumables – labour, consumables, services, what-have-you – in Northern Australia,” Mr De Lacy said. “So everybody benefits.”

Mr De Lacy said the major advantage needed for successful agriculture in Northern Australia is “scale”.

“You can produce so much biomass in the tropics – you have got masses of water, sunshine, soil – which is really stored energy,” he said. “That overcomes a major economic disadvantage of being out there, when you have got all of your own electricity.”

What Mr De Lacy and the IFED team hope is that their Northern Australia project will be a catalyst for other intelligent sustainable developments that will help the region realise its true potential.

Mr De Lacy said the old ways of developing the North were ripe for failure.

“The old system was government did the water infrastructure, then they had farmers, a whole range of farmers, usually supervised by government, resuming land and cutting it up. And then you had separate processing,” Mr De Lacy said.

“So you really just did not have that integration that we believe is necessary. For example, in the Ord, the price of sugar went down and the farmers started growing something else. So how does the mill carry on? Whereas what we are talking about is one owner of the water, the farming and all the infrastructure.

PLUGGING IN AGBOTS

Mr De Lacy said the EIAP was planning to take advantage of the latest technologies from day one – including keeping an eye on agricultural robot systems being developed in Queensland by QUT and Swarm Farm.

“(Agricultural robots) that go along and zap a feral plant with insecticide, or microwave or whatever, and just get the one that is growing, that’s all. We would be looking at those,” Mr De Lacy said.

“And drones … they are using those now in the cattle industry. They fly around the fence and just photograph if the fence is good … but we would have other uses for those too. And all automation as well.

“Starting from scratch, you’ve got a great opportunity. I keep saying to our mob, you have got one chance to make this really efficient. It’s the first one.”

“I reckon we will grow sugar cheaper than anywhere in the world, simply because of technology and our production systems. I think our production will be just extraordinary.”

www.i-fed.com.au

  • A more detailed story on the Etheridge Integrated Agriculture Project will appear in the next edition, Business Acumen #85, in part two of our Special Report: Northern Australia.

 

ends


EXTRA >> By Mike Sullivan

RARELY has a Federal Government initiative been so well received as the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA).

Sure, it had a master salesman with an anticipant presence: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. And, sure, business leaders – especially those at the innovative leading edge – have been calling for many reforms that were announced in the package for several years. 

The fact that so many of those reforms, to assist businesses trying to innovate, have been written into the package is surprising enough – but the fact that several other announcements had an innovative edge about them was a major surprise.

Australian business is not used to that. It is used to moribund governments who make decisions based on short-term electoral concerns. Governments that will not admit when something is not working and, so, change it.

Initially, it is about changing the mood of Australian business from sombre and weary to imaginative and energetic. In that respect, NISA is a nicer start.

The fact that the announcement was made at CSIRO headquarters in Canberra shows a deft touch.

Mr Turnbull has to paint a big inspirational picture – “our innovation agenda is going to help create the modern, dynamic, 21st-century economy Australia needs” – but must draw in multi-various elements of detail for success.

He has drafted a landscape that features subjects as diverse as new finance systems, immigration, education, R&D, regulatory and taxation innovation. And he stretched the canvas symbolically, and politically, by re-instating and re-organising funding to the CSIRO that had been removed under previous Prime Minister Tony Abbott – and making that announcement at the CSIRO headquarters.

INNOVATIVE LANGUAGE

The Prime Minister Turnbull couched what is a complex shift in the Australian business environment in simple terms. He called it “ushering in the ideas boom”.

With his introduction of the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) Mr Turnbull also drew a line under the mining construction boom that has advantaged and elevated Australia’s fiscal security for more than a decade. The thing about drawing a line under an era is that you now have a choice: look above the line or below it.

The challenge for Mr Turnbull is to keep challenging Australian business leaders to peer long and hard high above that line – business leaders that are used to being disappointed

Through the new innovation agenda, Mr Turnbull is clearly urging Australian business leaders to look way above the line for what will underpin the country’s prosperity well into the future: ideas and effort. While these qualities have always underpinned Australia’s leading industries – and will continue to do so in mining, where mining services technologies and know-how have become one of Australia’s great exports – in the digital age they need to drive all industries.

“That is the next boom for Australia and, you know something, unlike a mining boom, it is a boom that can continue for ever,” Mr Turnbull said. “It is limited only by our imagination and I know that Australians believe in themselves, I know that we are a creative and imaginative nation and inspired, led, incentivised, we will have a very long ideas boom in the 21st-century.”

The problem with ‘industrialising’ ideas is that it is extremely complicated. There are lots of good ideas, but getting them to become good commercial ideas that create jobs and wealth is where Australia has fallen down regularly in the past.

Australian ‘ideas men and women’ created the refrigeration of food, the world’s first feature film, the black box flight recorder, wi-fi and, arguably, the technology behind controlled flight. But how many of those ideas are now commercially dominated by Australian firms?

Americans the Wright Brothers made the first powered flight utilising systems they acknowledged were created by Australian Lawrence Hargrave. Today, America has Boeing, Lockheed and, lately, SpaceX. Australia had the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, now owned by Boeing.

Americans created the Internet and sent it mobile through wireless fidelity (wi-fi). Australians developed wi-fi through the CSIRO. Americans today have Google, Apple, and Facebook. Australia has some great second and third tier internet-based companies – most of which have had to go to the US to be funded – and to scale up.

THE VISION

“Although there are challenges, there has never been a better time to start and grow a business from Australia, which can now compete for customers located anywhere in the world,” Mr Turnbull said at the launch in Canberra.

“We are on the doorstep of Asia, the world’s economic engine room and our new trade agreements with China, Japan and Korea are opening up more doors in Asia for our business,” he said, elevating the public perception of those trade agreements won by Mr Abbott.

“The internet and the technologies it enables mean we are now part of a truly global marketplace. It means there are fewer barriers to entry for Australian businesses, no matter where they are located, right across Australia they can sell their products and services to just about every corner of the globe.”

THE STARTING POINT

To figure out where you are going, you have to know where you are at. This has been a delusional problem for Australia in recent years, where many government initiatives have happily called themselves “world class”. This has often been wishful thinking.

The Prime Minister did draw a line in the sand about where Australia was beached on innovation and where it had its toes in the water.

“Our universities, our research organisations like the CSIRO, where we are today and our workforce are world-class but, Australia is falling behind when it comes to commercialising good ideas and collaborating with industry,” he said.

“Australia consistently ranks last or second last among OECD countries for business research collaboration. Increasing collaboration between businesses, universities and the research sector is absolutely critical for our businesses to remain competitive.

“To commercialise an idea, a great invention, a great innovation, a great piece of research and then grow it into new sources of revenue, new jobs, new opportunities and new industries.

“Companies that embrace innovation, that are agile and prepared to approach change confidently and with a sense of optimism are more competitive, more able to grow market share and more likely to increase their employment. More jobs, more growth – that is the focus of my government.

“And, we are absolutely committed to ensuring that our students have the skills to find high wage and rewarding jobs, regardless of their qualifications or career path. We are going to do this by promoting coding and computing in schools, to ensure our students have the problem-solving and critical reasoning skills for the jobs of the future.

“We cannot future-proof ourselves from change, nor should we seek to do so. But, we can ensure that our students are graduating with the skills and the agility to identify opportunities and embrace risk.”

The Prime Minister outlined how the agenda was organised: “The government’s innovation package that we are releasing today will incentivise and reward innovation, entrepreneurship and risk-taking by focusing on four key areas.”

1: CULTURE AND CAPITAL

Mr Turnbull said changing the business culture and capital systems would help Australian business to embrace risk and incentivise early stage investment in start-ups.

“You will see in this package there will be new incentives, new drivers to ensure that Australians with new business ideas, with new enterprises will be better able to find the capital that gets them started,” he said. “And, you know something? Even if their businesses don't succeed, we all benefit. We learned so much from the failure of new businesses.

“We want to be a culture, a national culture of innovation, of risk-taking, because as we do that, we grow the whole ecosystem of innovation right across the economy. It is believing in our human capital and remembering that the best assets we have, the most important assets we have in this country are not to be found under the ground, but walking around on top of it is the 24 million Australians, the men and women of Australia, these and their ideas are what secures our future. And, this package will incentivise, dynamise, energise that enormous opportunity.”

2: BUSINESS RESEARCH COLLABORATION

The government is restructuring to help drive business research collaboration, Mr Turnbull said. “ensuring that there is greater collaboration between organisations like the CSIRO, universities, other research institutions and business to commercialise ideas and solve problems”.

Mr Turnbull said NISA was designed to encourage “every single business, large or small to be more innovative, to be more prepared to have a go at something new because in the world of the 21st-century, in 2015, that is how you prosper”.

3: TALENT AND SKILLS

The emphasis needed to be on training and preparing Australians for the jobs of the future, Mr Turnbull said.

“We are going to focus on talent and skills, training our students for the jobs of the future and ensuring that we attract the world's best innovative talent to Australia,” he said.

“I said that our best assets are walking around on top of the earth, you know something, so are everybody else’s and we want to have the best talent come to Australia, whether they come to Australia for the first time, or whether they are a foreign student that has done postgraduate work here and wants to stay here and develop new businesses, contribute to the innovative economy of Australia.

“We want to make sure we retain and gain the best human capital that we can.”

4: GOVERNMENT TECH LEAD

A bold shift by Mr Turnbull was announced as the fourth pillar of the innovation strategy: “government leading by example in the way it invests in and uses technology”

This aim is for both economic advantage and to give Australia’s leading technology companies a ‘home ground advantage’. Governments around Australia have been widely criticised for being slow to adopt useful new technologies and for dis-favouring Australian technology leadership and favouring multi-national brands.

“Right across the board you will see there are measures to ensure that government is digitally transformed, so that it is nimble, so that you can deal with government as easily as you can with eBay or with one of the big financial institutions,” Mr Turnbull said. “We should be able to transact with government for most of our engagement on our smartphone.

“Digital works, it transforms, it makes it easier for business, easier for government.

“The other thing that we must do is ensure that we embrace small business and you will see here measures that are going to make it much easier for smaller Australian businesses to sell to government and for government to buy from them,” Mr Turnbull said.

“There have been too many barriers, it has been too hard, too much red tape, too many forms. We can sweep that aside. In 2015, we don’t need that. We need to work swiftly and nimbly and government has to lead the way.

“This is the opportunity of the 21st-century. This is a century of ideas, this is a time when Australia’s growth, when our living standards, when our incomes will be determined by the human capital, the intellectual capital that all of us have.

“By unleashing our innovation, unleashing our imagination, being prepared to embrace change, we usher in the ideas boom.”

But while highlighting the vision, Mr Turnbull has flavoured it with a practicality that is rare: the government is prepared to ‘fail fast’ in its initiatives as well.

“We have got to be prepared to take risks. That is why one of the aspects of the political paradigm I’m seeking to change is the old politics where politicians felt that they had to guarantee that every policy would work, they had water everything down so there was no element of risk,” Mr Turnbull said. “Let me tell you: I’m not guaranteeing that all of these policies will be as successful as we hope they will be.

“Actually, I'm very confident about it because we've worked very hard on it. We had a great team, a lot of good collaboration, but if some of these policies are not as successful as we like, we will change them. We will learn from them.

“Because that is what a 21st century government has got to be. It has got to be as agile as the start-up businesses it seeks to inspire.”

www.innovation.gov.au

ends

PROCUREMENT: DIGITAL MARKETPLACE

The Federal Government is creating a new digital marketplace to make it easier for start-ups and small and medium businesses to sell to and work with government.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has allocated $15 million for the Digital Transformation Office (DTO) to develop the Digital Marketplace – an online directory of digital and ICT services from which government agencies will procure – to improve competition and promote innovation across government.

“The Digital Marketplace will break down barriers to entry and make it easier for start-ups and small and medium businesses to compete for the $5 billion government spends on ICT each year,” Mr Turnbull said.

 

CYBER SECURITY COLLABORATION

AN INDUSTRY-LED Cyber Security Growth Centre is being established by the Federal Government.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the government was investing $30 million in the Cyber Security Growth Centre, to create business opportunities for Australia’s cyber security industries.

“Attacks on Australia’s cyber network costs billions of dollars to the economy each year,” Mr Turnbull said. “The Growth Centre will bring together industry, researchers and governments to develop a national cyber security strategy and coordinate research to reduce overlap and maximise impact.

“This will help all Australians and businesses be safer and more secure online.”

It is the first initiative to be delivered under the government’s Cyber Security Strategy, to be released in 2016.

 

OPEN DATA INNOVATION PUSH

GOVERNMENT agencies will soon be required to “make appropriate data openly available by default in machine readable and anonymised form” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull recently announced.

He said the Federal Government would release a Public Data Policy Statement as part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) to formalise the government’s commitment to open data and data-driven innovation.

Government agencies will publish the open data through data.gov.au

“Spatial data, in particular, is becoming increasingly important to the economy given the rapid take-up and use of mobile devices in Australia,” Mr Turnbull said.

“The government will release one of the most requested high-value datasets, PSMA Australia’s (PSMA) Geocoded National Address File (G-NAF), and their Administrative Boundaries datasets.

“Making the G-NAF available under open data terms will remove barriers that restrict the data’s use and promote innovation,” he said.

“These measures combined will help to create a more innovative and entrepreneurial Australia.”

www.innovation.gov.au

ends

FOREIGN Minister Julie Bishop believes the Australian Government’s new National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) will boost work being done through her department’s innovationXchange collaborative economic development hub in the Indo-Pacific region.

“The innovationXchange, an exciting hub within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is already demonstrating how new partnerships can address development challenges in Australia’s region, including through our work with Bloomberg Philanthropies to collect health data via mobile devices,” Ms Bishop said. 

Ms Bishop said NISA would ensure Australia “is an enterprising, entrepreneurial and creative nation, capable of maximising the benefits from the economic transformation taking place in the Indo-Pacific region”.

“As part of this Agenda, the government's overseas network of more than 130 posts will promote Australia’s innovation, science and research capabilities overseas,” Ms Bishop said.

“Our diplomatic posts will connect Australian innovators with business, the Australian diaspora and the international alumni of Australian universities, including through internship placements for Australians under the New Colombo Plan.

“The Agenda commits to reviewing the Film Location Offset designed to attract major motion pictures to be produced in Australia and provide jobs in our creative industries,” she said.

“The recent decision to provide a top up to the Location Offset for two projects was instrumental in securing the agreement to produce in Australia the new Twentieth Century Fox Alien film and Disney/Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok.

“Strengthening Australia's innovation and research links globally, and connecting with international investors, will lift Australia's domestic innovation performance and help Australia maximise opportunities in the new global economy.”

The Foreign Minister said new international profile brought to Australia's innovation and science capabilities would also attract international entrepreneurs “to visit and work in Australia and enhance Australia’s economic prosperity and international competitiveness”

www.dfat.gov.au

ends

 

 

 

TECHNOLOGY and business entrepreneurs will be encouraged to bring their ideas to Australia through visa reforms.

The Federal Government has announced changes to migration and business visas to attract what it calls “talented and highly educated people” under the new National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA).

The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton said a new Entrepreneur Visa will be introduced to attract innovative talent and changes will be made to retain high achieving foreign students in Australia. 

"The visa system is a key enabler of Australia’s ability to attract and capitalise on the expertise and ideas of foreign innovators within a global marketplace,” Mr Dutton said.

“We also have a strong interest in retaining highly educated individuals to contribute to a thriving knowledge economy.”

Mr Dutton said the new Entrepreneur Visa would attract individuals with unique skillsets, ideas and the entrepreneurial talent to Australia.

"It will be available for emerging entrepreneurs with innovative ideas and financial backing to develop their ideas in Australia,” he said. “Australia’s overseas networks will be leveraged to actively encourage entrepreneurial and innovative talent to come to Australia.

“We also want to retain highly educated, talented people whose knowledge base has been developed in Australia.

“We will make changes to facilitate a pathway to permanent residence for foreign students who are recent graduates from Australian institutions with specialised doctorate-level and masters-by-research qualifications,” Mr Dutton said.

Mr Dutton said ideas, skills and talent were essential to a high performing economy.

“The National Innovation and Science Agenda will change the way Australians work together to shape the nation," Mr Dutton said.

“The agenda includes initiatives to foster new start-ups, help businesses to grow, and prepare young Australians for the opportunities of the future.”

The changes would assist graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects or specified information and communication technology (ICT) and related fields.

“Innovation is an important building block for our nation’s growth and through these reforms we will ensure Australia can benefit from the expertise of the global marketplace,” Mr Dutton said.

“These changes remove impediments in the visa system to facilitate entry and retention of highly talented people.”

The reforms will be introduced in the second half of 2016, according to Mr Dutton.

www.innovation.gov.au.​

 

Ends

INTERNATIONAL innovation hubs in five key markets are being established by the Federal Government as part of its Global Innovation Strategy.

Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb said the overseas hubs – to be called Landing Pads – would assist emerging Australian companies with in identifying and engaging with international opportunities in overseas markets. 

“Landing Pads will be created in key global innovation hotspots including Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv to give Australian entrepreneurs and start-ups a short-term operational base,” Mr Robb said.

“A Landing Pad provides for a collaborative workspace and facilities including office space and meeting rooms for up to two months, as well as accelerated access to international business networks, entrepreneurial talent, business development and investment opportunities.

“The Landing Pads will be established by Austrade in the US and Israel, with a further three locations to be identified in the near future,” Mr Robb said.

“Austrade will also provide access to tailored services including mentoring, business coaching, identifying investors and potential business partners.

“This is a valuable new resource for Australian companies and will help foster the innovation and entrepreneurialism we need to create new jobs and build the industries of the future,” Mr Robb said.

Mr Robb said the Global Innovation Strategy was the key international element in the Australian Government’s $1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) and will support Australia’s ongoing economic diplomacy and science diplomacy efforts globally.

“Through the strategy, Austrade will receive $11.2 million in new funding to establish five Landing Pads and also develop a new annual in-bound innovation forum to foster collaboration and encourage international market experts, entrepreneurial talent and investors into Australia,” Mr Robb said.

He said a focus on innovation will also be a key theme of Ministerial-led business missions such as the forthcoming Australia-United States Business Week, February 16-26, 2016.

www.innovation.gov.au

 

ends

NEW TAX and business incentive measures under the Federal Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) will help to drive economic growth and jobs for Australia, according to Treasurer Scott Morrison.

Key among those measures are tax breaks for early stage investors, a new and more enlightened regime for counting tax losses and changes to bankruptcy laws aimed at helping fast-moving entrepreneurs to recover quickly from financial failures. 

“Innovation is critically important to every sector of the economy and the government’s tax and business incentives under the NISA will encourage smart ideas to encourage innovation, risk taking and build an entrepreneurial culture in Australia,” Mr Morrison said.

The Treasurer outlined the new measures to:

Provide new tax breaks for early stage investors in innovative startups. Investors will receive a 20% non-refundable tax offset based on the amount of their investment, as well as a capital gains tax exemption.

Build on the recent momentum in venture capital investment in Australia, including by introducing a 10 percent non-refundable tax offset for capital invested in new Early Stage Venture Capital Limited Partnerships (ESVCLPs), and increasing the cap on committed capital from $100 million to $200 million for new ESVCLPs.

Relax the ‘same business test’ that denies tax losses if a company changes its business activities, and introduce a more flexible ‘predominantly similar business test’. This will allow a start-up to bring in an equity partner and secure new business opportunities without worrying about tax penalties.

Remove rules that limit depreciation deductions for some intangible assets (such as patents) to a statutory life and instead allow them to be depreciated over their economic life as occurs for other assets.

INSOLVENCY REVOLUTION

Mr Morrison’s planned changes to insolvency laws and conditions in Australia bring it more into line with the US environment, where the ‘fail-fast-and-move-on’ culture is embedded in many Silicon Valley tech success stories.

“The government will also reform insolvency laws which currently focus on penalising and stigmatising business failure,” Mr Morrison said. “We understand that sometimes entrepreneurs will fail several times before they succeed – and will usually learn more from failure than from success.”

Mr Morrison said the reforms would:

 

Reduce the default bankruptcy period of three years to one year;

Introduce a ‘safe harbour’ for directors from personal liability for insolvent trading if they appoint a professional restructuring adviser to develop a plan to turnaround a company in financial difficulty.

Ban ‘ipso facto’ contractual clauses that allow an agreement to be terminated solely due to an insolvency event if a company is undertaking a restructure.

“The NISA fosters an environment that incentivises and rewards innovation, science and taking risks to succeed,” Mr Morrison said.

“These measures are the next step in building a more innovative and agile economy. The Turnbull Government is implementing a National Platform for Economic Growth and Jobs, of which the NISA is a central part. We are broadening and diversifying the economy through economic policies to build growth and increase the productive capacity of Australia.

“The NISA builds on the government’s responses to the Harper Competition Policy Review and the Murray Financial System Inquiry and is the next step in building a more innovative and agile economy,” he said.

“Whether it is the NISA, our reform of Australia’s financial system, a better tax system, national infrastructure plan, a stronger budget or competition policy, our focus is on giving Australians confidence that they can continue to work through the transition of our economy and ensure their families will be better off. The Turnbull Government is backing Australians in that task,” Mr Morrison said.

www.innovation.gov.au

 

ends

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