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Backing Australia's Ability

By John Howard - posted Thursday, 15 February 2001

In this centenary year of Australia’s Federation it is my great pleasure to launch the Government’s Innovation Action Plan for the Future, Backing Australia’s Ability.

More and more people are coming to understand that innovation, as a concept, is not the preserve of just a small group of Australians, but the means by which all of us, in small business, as employees in larger companies, as primary producers, as parents wanting better opportunities for our children, will succeed.

Australian invention and innovation has taken many forms, from the most humble practical changes to great nation-building projects. And although sometimes not given the public recognition deserved, we have had particular success in the area of scientific endeavour.


Yet, as fine as our achievements have been, the fruits of our ingenuity and inventiveness must be realised here in Australia. In an extremely competitive world of highly mobile capital and labour, it is all the more important that Australia has the right incentives and opportunities to translate Australian ideas into income and jobs at home for Australians.

In launching Backing Australia's Ability, the largest group of measures ever put together by an Australian Government to foster innovation, and in calling upon those in the scientific, education and business communities to take up the opportunities offered by it, I am confident that, together, we can create a climate to harness the talents of our best and brightest and effectively compete in the world of which I’ve just spoken.

By providing significant additional resources and the means by which talented Australians can have a go in the field of science and technology, we are seeking today to nurture a new generation of young scientific minds capable of achieving great things for their country.

Innovation, as a concept, can’t flourish in isolation. People, no matter how talented or entrepreneurial, can’t be expected to have a go if they lack confidence in the environment that surrounds them.

For this reason, the success of these initiatives will be very much underpinned by the Government’s record in providing an economic climate in which innovation can thrive.

Our tax reforms, the new capital gains tax system, and our more flexible labour market have created a vibrant and competitive economic environment with high growth and productivity and, as was confirmed last month, low inflation. An environment in which Australians can have confidence and can be innovative.


Past programmes/background

This group of initiatives is the fulfilment of a major Coalition election promise and the next step in a series of wide-ranging programs undertaken by my Government over recent years to stimulate and encourage innovation.

The Investing for Growth statement in 1997, the new policy and funding framework for higher education research and research training announced in Knowledge and Innovation and the government’s decision in 1999 to double base funding for health and medical research by an additional $614 million over five years are all examples of our past commitment to innovation.

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This is an edited extract from the Prime Minister’s Federation Address given at the Technology Park Centre, Sydney 29.01.01. For the full text of the speech, click here.

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About the Author

The Hon John Howard MP is Prime Minister of Australia and Federal Liberal Member for Bennelong (NSW).

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