The federal government’s planned network of up to ten Industry Innovation Precincts, a key part of its Industry and Innovation statement, would be abandoned if the Coalition were to win office in this year’s election.
The precinct network – announced in February along with other measures such as mandatory Australian Industry Participation Plans to be completed for major projects worth over $500 million and changes to anti-dumping laws – is budgeted at $504.5 million. Its stated goals include creating better collaboration between researchers and industry.
“Obviously greater cooperation between companies and researchers is fundamental and critical to our future and it’s a principle that the Coalition obviously supports and has done so for a long time,” shadow industry minister Sophie Mirabella told Manufacturers’ Monthly.
When asked if the Innovation Precincts would be scrapped if the Coalition were to be successful at the upcoming federal election – the date of which is the subject of speculation but which could be held no later than November 30 – Mrs Mirabella replied, “that’s correct.”
The first two Innovation Precincts announced were for the food and manufacturing industries. The Manufacturing Precinct, headquartered at Monash University’s Clayton campus, held its first board meeting on June 13.
Chair of the Manufacturing Innovation Precinct, Albert Goller, told Manufacturers’ Monthly that he was confident the precinct could continue its job regardless of the election outcome.
“If we’re going to get a government that’s going to support us, then wonderful,” he said.
“If we get a government that stays maybe a little bit more neutral, that will not hinder us to be successful.”
The opposition claims that the government was unlikely to deliver on the initiative, and the funding for it was based on “shaky” figures.
“Apparently approvals of any of the proposals for at least 80 per cent of innovation precincts announced in the industry statement are also being postponed until after the election,” said Mirabella.
“So not to mention that there’s been at least 12 months’ delay on a decision on where at least one of the two that have so far been nominated will be housed permanently.”
The most recent major opinion poll, Monday’s Nielsen poll, shows the government and opposition split evenly on a two-party preferred basis.