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Unis buoyed by innovation calls

Universities are demanding an end to parliament’s bottleneck on reform and want both sides of politics to put their money where their mouth is on innovation.


Buoyed by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s shared view that innovation is the key for future prosperity, Universities Australia chair Barney Glover says it’s time to invest in it or fall behind those that do.

“Both major political parties have decidedly planted their feet firmly in the future,” Professor Glover told the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday.

“We have reached a stage where a progressive legislative framework is not only possible, but achievable.”

He also criticised the uncertainty left by the government’s inability to push fee deregulation through the parliament.

The plans, twice blocked by the Senate, have been mothballed and will not go ahead until 2017.

The impasse left the nation’s third-largest export industry in funding limbo and without a plan forward.

“This kind of instability is simply intolerable,” Prof Glover said.

He warned Australia risked being left behind without a long-term advancement plan.

With 40 per cent of jobs tipped to disappear within two decades, university investment will be needed to create new jobs, industries and sources of income.

“We face a stark choice. We either make this investment or we fall behind those that do,” he said.

In a pre-election wish-list, his group calls for tax concessions for firms that work with universities on research, more money to encourage international research ties, and efforts to encourage start-ups.

But it all depends on all sides agreeing.

Prof Glover says the nation is up to it – and universities are willing to help.

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