Budget 2023: Time for Labor to deliver on pre-election promises, says tech sector

“The deep tech companies that will build Australia’s long-term economic prosperity require patient capital, consistent policy, and persistent progress.”

R&D tax incentive

The NRF is an off-budget loan facility that will seed investment in modern manufacturing as well as emerging sectors of artificial intelligence and quantum computing.

Ms Williams said the budget should provide additional certainty and clarity about the continuation of the research and development tax incentive and Accelerating Commercialisation grants, and have measures to speed up processing times to get money out of the door more quickly.


Local Measure founder Jonathan Barouch says costs of processing visas needs to be addressed. Peter Braig

Jonathan Barouch, the founder and chief executive of call centre software business Local Measure, said he is hoping for a “thoughtful innovation policy” under Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic, with more clarity needed on how start-ups can access the R&D tax rebate.

“I would like to see a commitment or a statement around Labor’s support for the R&D rebate. I think that’s a really important program to keep Australia’s competitive position,” he said.

“In years gone by, cases like the one against AirTasker, where money was clawed back, really unfairly undermined the program.

“If we want to attract the best and brightest, and have engineers being hired in Australia, we need to hear from the government that they are committed to the program, and that it will be funded into the future.”


While the backlog of 1 million visas has cleared, the sector is still hoping for migration reforms and a more streamlined way to renew visas.

“Finding and attracting labour into Australia is still pretty tough, it is still expensive to get a visa. I think the processing time has come down quite a lot. It’s under 30 days now, when it used to take months and months,” Mr Barouch said.

“We’ve got an incredibly bright young lady who works for us on a visa that’s running out. We probably have to spend $10,000 to $15,000 to renew her visa for two to four years, and it takes a month.

“There should be a way of doing it really cost-effectively online with limited fuss.”

Diversity in STEM

Sarah Moran, co-founder of Girl Geek Academy, wants Budget funding set aside for any recommendations made by the government’s ongoing Diversity in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) review, which will be handed down early in the new financial year.


Geek Girl Academy’s Sarah Moran says it is time for Labor to start making good on its pre-election promises. Eddie Jim

“After Minister Husic made it clear this was on his personal agenda while in opposition, this will be the first full budget year the Albanese government can address the lack of women in STEM,” Ms Moran said.

“Funding is expected to increase for WISE grants (Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship), Boosting Female Founders and the government’s existing gender equality in STEM initiatives.”

Mark Finn, co-founder and chief financial officer of Roller, which makes venue management software, also backed the call for more investment to encourage women to take up technical roles.

“Certainly there is an under-representation of women in engineering and product-related roles. I don’t think the government can under-invest in this area. It is critical to improve the breadth, depth and diversity of talent in the tech sector,” he said.

Mr Finn also called for more support and incentives for companies to invest in upskilling and retraining workers, particularly in areas like data and analytics and engineering to prepare them for the rapid changes AI will usher into workplaces.

Quantum funding

Industry Minister Ed Husic has already flagged federal budget funding and investment from the government’s $1 billion critical technology fund to support a new national quantum computing strategy.

Mark Luo, CEO of Quantum Brilliance, said it is needed to build infrastructure such as a National Quantum Computing Centre.

“Government investment is critical – this will build Australia’s national wealth. More should be invested into deep tech – our funds are over-allocated towards the stock market and VCs are more invested in software tech,” he said.

Meanwhile, companies in the blockchain and crypto space are hoping the government will make a bigger investment to support their industry.

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