AusBiotech hopes new leadership accelerates tax reform


AusBiotech has welcomed Malcolm Turnbull’s appointment as Prime Minister, expressing the hope his leadership will trigger the end of a period of Government policy inertia, and progress in tax reform aimed to building Australia’s strengths in R&D-based innovation.

In calling for policy support and reform, AusBiotech CEO, Dr Anna Lavelle, argues that, “Public funding will not be able to fully leverage Australia's innovation to gain economic and social benefit, we need instead to look to tax reform.

“It is through this mechanism that we can stimulate innovation that will enable Australia to retain what it has built, create what it is yet to be built and, specifically, attract private capital investment which would augment any public contribution.

“The first step would be to abandon current attempts (in the Senate) to undermine the successful Research and Development Tax Incentive with a 1.5% cut," said Dr Lavelle.

The Government is currently seeking parliamentary support for a cut in the R&D Tax Incentive to 43.5 per cent for eligible entities with annual turnover under $20 million and 38.5 per cent for all other eligible entities.

The cut is currently opposed by Labor and the Greens.

In its submissions to the Innovation Inquiry and the current Tax Review, AusBiotech has called for tax reform as the most effective lever to support and grow innovation.

AusBiotech also advocates for the introduction of the Australian Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) incentive, which would give a lower tax rate on profit derived from IP related manufacturing and commercialisation, and an incentive for investors to invest for longer periods.

“International competition for intellectual property and investment is extreme and it is increasing in pace. The serious investment occurring in many other countries is not currently occurring in Australia. Australia now needs to decide the importance of innovation in its economic future, its role in productivity and jobs, and make an appropriately serious commitment to deriving those desired outcomes,” she said.

The biotechnology sector is also awaiting the announcement of ministerial appointments following Mr Turnbull's victory in the leadership vote.

Industry and Science Minister Ian Macfarlane is understood to have backed Mr Turnbull in the leadership ballot.

Mr Turnbull, who has consistently spoken out in support of innovation, has connections to Australia's biotechnology sector through his spouse, Lucy Turnbull AO.

Ms Turnbull is Chair of Prima Biomed, a company involved in the discovery and development of immunotherapies.

Ms Turnbull previously served as Chair of the New South Wales Government‘s Ministerial Advisory Committee on Biotechnology, from 2001-2002, and is currently on the Board of the Cancer Institute of NSW.