Asia St: Australia Launches New Research Boost Amid Sliding Government Standing

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Australia Launches New Research Boost Amid Sliding Government Standing

February 07, 2022

Picture: Prime Minister Scott Morrison at his desk (Photo Credit: Prime Minister of Australia Website).

BGA’s Australia team, led by Managing Director Fergus Hanson, wrote a client update on Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s new package which includes a focus on the commercialization of research. The update provided a sense of some of the key aspects of the initiative and opportunities that lie ahead for companies.

Context

  • Facing a worrying dip in the polls ahead of a likely May 2022 election, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is emphasizing economic management and support for business — two traditional areas of strength for the Liberal-Nationals government.
  • In a major recent speech to the National Press Club, Morrison conceded he had made mistakes in his handling of the omicron variant, but he provided a staunch defense of his overall handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Morrison announced a new AUD 1.6 billion ($1.1 billion) Australian Economic Accelerator (AEA), intended to turn “Australia’s leading research into world-beating businesses.” The AEA is the flagship of an AUD 2.2 billion ($1.5 billion) package to promote the commercialization of research in the country’s six national manufacturing priority areas.

Significance

  • Business should look to Morrison’s announcement of an AUD 2.2 billion (US$1.5 billion) package to promote the commercialization of research in the six national manufacturing priority areas: resources and critical minerals, food and beverage, medical products, recycling and clean energy, defense and space.
  • The AEA will become a critical source of competitive funding for innovative new projects with high commercial potential. The accelerator will invest in projects as they progress through their development and “drive our universities and businesses to work hand-in-glove through the stages to prove projects’ viability and potential.”
  • Morrison believes his government is best placed to maintain Australia’s low unemployment rate by supporting the private sector by cutting red tape, keeping taxes low and offering judicious subsidies.

Implications

  • With a tight election looming, now is a good time for business to deepen links with the opposition Labor Party and understanding of its policies. Labor has adopted a small package of policies but has foreshadowed several changes, including that “multinationals could do more” on tax.
  • Related foreign policy priorities affecting Morrison’s agenda and Australia’s interests will be key to watch. Foreign Minister Marise Payne confirmed that Australia will host a two-day Quad Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in mid-February. The meeting coincides with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit from February 9-12, during which Blinken will also engage with technology leaders in Melbourne.

BGA will continue to keep you updated on developments in Australia as they occur. If you have any questions or comments, please contact BGA Australia Managing Director Fergus Hanson at fhanson@bowergroupasia.com.