Federal Members of Parliament and Senators are being asked to engage on the threat to the Research and Development Tax Incentive (RDTI).
Greater commitment to the life science sector’s social and economic contributions is being sought by AusBiotech, after the most significant policy for translating health and medical research into life-saving and enhancing products remains vulnerable.
The life sciences sector makes a significant contribution to the health and economic well-being of Australians and AusBiotech has written to seek Federal MPs’ and Senators’ commitment and support for keeping this game-changing programme in its current state until the implications of change are better understood and mitigated.
Meetings are being requested, including with Hon Karen Andrews MP, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology. A briefing on the RDTI and further opportunities for advancing the life sciences industry is being offered to other Members of Parliament and Senators.
Revealed in AusBiotech’s recently released Industry Position Survey 2019, 88 per cent of CEOs surveyed described the RDTI as the most important government programme for their company, and ninety per cent reported policy stability as ‘very important’ or ‘important’.
In the pre-election period, six other key industry and research groups joined AusBiotech in their urge for action to be taken by supporting health and medical research through supporting the conditions that allow industry to do its part. AusBiotech welcomed a Senate Inquiry Committee’s recommendation in February, led by Senator Jane Hume, to defer consideration of a Bill threatening the RDTI until further examination and analysis of its impact had been undertaken.
Forward estimates within the April 2019 Budget indicated a total $1.35 billion in RDTI cuts to the programme, suggesting current policies remain in place. The Government said in media comment that it has not yet made its decision on the recent Inquiry’s recommendations, and has run its financial estimates on the policies that were in place when caretaker mode commenced.
Lorraine Chiroiu, CEO AusBiotech says, “The integrity of the RDTI is important, but for the growth and development of investment in R&D, and ultimately for Australian patients, it’s absolutely critical we get it right. We welcome conversations to discuss the policy further, and we urge all Federal MPs and Senators to commit to keeping this game-changing programme in its current state until we have thought through any changes.”
The Survey showed that while Australia’s strength in life sciences remains in a growth trajectory, there was a worrying fall in business sentiment across the sector with uncertainty over the fate of the RDTI. Over one quarter of companies (26 per cent) said the environment ‘works against growing a biotech business’. This is the worst result this decade, reflects significant uncertainty in the environment, and points to a challenging period ahead.
Industry is key to bringing future health solutions to patients, and while the Australian life sector is globally recognised for its work, Government and industry must continue to work together to ensure that we stay globally competitive.