Federal Politics

EXCLUSIVE

Government to launch $28 million taxpayer-funded ad campaign to sell innovation policies

The Turnbull government will spend $28 million on a taxpayer-funded advertising blitz to spruik its innovation agenda and trigger a "cultural shift" in the economy.

The new sales pitch brings the total cost of four major advertising campaigns under the Abbott and Turnbull governments to at least $84.5 million.

'This is not a one-off announcement'

Innovation "is an absolutely critical theme of our administration," says Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as he unveils the National Innovation and Science Agenda at the CSIRO. (Vision courtesy ABC News 24)

Industry, Innovation and Science Minister Christopher Pyne said the government's innovation agenda – a hallmark of the new-look Turnbull regime – would only succeed if the public embraced it. The $1.1 billion package was unveiled in December under the slogan "Welcome to the Ideas Boom".

Mr Pyne said Australia's innovation culture needed to better replicate places like Berlin, Tel Aviv, the Silicon Valley, Singapore and South Korea.

Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne said the government's innovation agenda would only ...
Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne said the government's innovation agenda would only succeed if the public embraced it. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

"There is a common cultural trait in these countries, one where entrepreneurship is valued and taking calculated risks or 'having a go' at start-up a business is considered to be the norm," he said.

He pointed to research commissioned by the government that found Australia needed to change its thinking on risk-taking, new ideas and business failure.

"We can't afford to be left behind."

The Orima Research work suggests while Australians are mostly positive about innovation, research and science, knowledge is limited. Just 5 per cent of Australians think the country is a global leader in innovation; over a quarter think a lack of investment incentives is the biggest barrier to investment, and two-thirds agree more risk-taking is needed.

Industry, Innovation and Science Minister Christopher Pyne and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull launch the government's ...
Industry, Innovation and Science Minister Christopher Pyne and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull launch the government's innovation policy. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

It also found businesses can identify more reasons to not innovate than to innovate.

The government's innovation package is designed to help fill the economic void left by a downturn in the mining sector. It promises less regulation, more funding for scientific research and the creation of a culture of risk-taking through tax offsets and new laws. The package was widely welcomed by industry and Labor has endorsed many of the measures.

The government has already approved a $16.5 million ad campaign to sell its childcare reforms, while the Intergenerational Report advertising campaign cost taxpayers $31 million. 

It had planned to spend nearly $15 million spruiking higher education reforms but documents show $8.9 million was actually spent because the changes failed to pass the Senate.

When in power Labor spent $20 million on an advertisements promoting its Gonski school funding reforms and $70 million on a carbon tax-related advertising campaign. 

The innovation ad campaign will target television, digital platforms, social media and print. It will also feature "on the ground" community engagement.

"It will designed to help change the culture around innovation and science in our businesses, engage young people to help inspire the entrepreneurs of the future and any provide the key information to any Australian wanting to take a risk on a new business venture," Mr Pyne said.

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