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Politics

The NSW government is putting Investment NSW under the premier’s wing

- April 12, 2024 2 MIN READ
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After a year in power, NSW Premier Chris Minns has decided to put Investment NSW under his watch, along with the Office of the Chief Scientist, amid a restructure of the NSW Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade (DEIT) that will see its demise.

The state government announced the shakeup on Friday afternoon, claiming that DEIT’s “industry, innovation, trade and investment functions will return to the centre of government” with Investment NSW being transferred to the Premier’s Department.

“In addition, changes will be made to Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade, to provide a renewed focus on government priorities in the arts, hospitality, tourism and the night-time economy portfolios, as well as driving the implementation of key reforms, including the vibrancy reforms,” the government said in a media release from the premier, arts minister John Graham, small business and sports minister Steve Kamper and industry, trade, innovation, science and technology minister Anoulack Chanthivong.

Premier Minns said putting Investment NSW in the Premier’s Dept it will make it easier for industry, investors, and entrepreneurs to participate in major government priorities.

“The changes announced today bring structure and better co-ordination to important portfolios which together ensure our trade and investment is at the centre of government,” he said.

“This is a government that is focused on opening up Sydney and NSW for business, boosting the economy and creating jobs in these important sectors.”

 A new department is being created to replace DEIT. Venues NSW, NSW Institute of Sport and the Office of Sport will be related agencies of the new Department of Creative Industries, Tourism, Hospitality and Sport, with other DEIT functions and agencies also under the new structure.

The changes begin with the new financial year on July 1.

DEIT was already under pressure with Treasurer Daniel Mookhey cutting 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.

The Labor government also killed off plans for a $10 million venture capital fund to back female founders.

The Minns government was keen to focus on its support for the arts in today’s announcement

Minister Chanthivong said there “are significant benefits” in the changes for Investment NSW and the Chief Scientist.

“Industry, innovation and trade are critical to driving the creation of quality jobs and a more resilient state economy,” he said.

“I am focused on taking a coordinated, whole of government approach to working with industry and delivering on the NSW Government’s priorities.”

Consultation of Chanthivong’s plan for a new “Innovation Blueprint” closed last month.

The minister announced the plan last September, just as the shakeup of DEIT began, releasing a 2-page discussion paper, that said the government “wants to reset its relationship with the state’s innovators”.

At a time when the Queensland, Western Australia and even the Northern Territory governments have been ramping up support for the startup sector with tens of millions of dollars in investment, NSW startups have been feeling the pinch during the first quarter of Labor’s term in NSW.

The popular minimum viable products (MVP) grants program last November, six months after it was halted in May, but at just a 25% of the value of the previous government’s program. The rebadged “MVP Ventures Program” offers $3 million a year over four years to 2027, offering grants worth between $25,000 and $50,000. Applications close at the end of April.

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