Opposition takes a dig at NSW innovation and tech minister’s 100-day ‘cone of silence’

- June 6, 2024 2 MIN READ
binoculars, searching in long grass
While Queensland is busy backing startups with a $130 million fund that’s luring NSW VCs north of the border, and Victoria is backing NSW startups to set up shop to the South, it’s been all quiet on the Macquarie Street front when it comes to state government support for startups.

After a disappointing federal budget for the sector last month, many are hoping the NSW budget on June 18 will have good news after more than a year of cutbacks in support for startups.

Last month, the state government announced financial sweeteners for household to install batteries, but that policy doesn’t kick in until November and already the sector has seen orders grind to a halt and now face a six-month winter for orders.

The alarm bells sounded shortly after Labor assumed power last year and shut down a range of funding programs.

The Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade (DEIT) was already under pressure after treasurer Daniel Mookhey cut its funding by around 10% in his first budget, while Investment NSW shed around a quarter of its workforce and startup-related support, such as funding for the Sydney Startup Hub, was also cut.

Anoulack Chanthivong

NSW innovation, science and trade minister Anoulack Chanthivong

The Labor government also killed off plans for a $10 million venture capital fund to back female founders and “retired” the Chief Data Scientist position after Dr Ian Oppermann departed at the start of 2024 after eight years in the role.

When the government reinstated the minimum viable product (MVP) grant program, it at just a 25% of its previous worth, arguing that the Coalition version was unfunded.

In February the NSW government opens submissions for minister Chanthivong’s Innovation Blueprint, seeking a “more collaborative” relationship with the sector.

In April the government’s ongoing gutting of DEIT continued with Investment NSW placed under the premier’s control amid plans for a new department to replace DEIT.

Premier Chris Minns promoted the changes as the industry, innovation, trade and investment functions returning “to the centre of government”

On Wednesday opposition innovation, science and technology, Mark Coure took a jab at his counterpart saying 100 days had passed without making a single announcement for the sector, saying there had been no media releases since February 26.

Coure said Minns government has failed to make the investments needed to support and develop the NSW innovation, science and technology sector.

“For NSW to truly be a first-class state, we need vibrant and growing innovation, science and technology sectors, which will become drivers of economic growth and create the advanced jobs of the future,” he said.

“From the Premier’s Department absorbing the functions of Investment NSW and the Office of the Chief Scientist and Engineer, to the yet-to-be-seen Innovation Blueprint and the cuts to several important innovation grant programs, Minister Chanthivong has been left without a voice in government.”

Startup Daily contacted the minister’s office for a response. A spokesperson pointed to a May 28 announcement from the Office of the Chief Scientist and Engineer about a study into the quantum sector, commissioned by the office, which features quotes from Chanthivong, as proof that Coure was factually incorrect.