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Reinvent Australia’s economy with innovative thinking: insights from the Honourable Minister Damien Tudehope

As Australia begins its exit process from lockdown, it’s important for businesses to take stock, get advice, and think about online opportunities to reinvent Australia’s economy.

Netstripes Founder – Dinesh De Silva sat down to discuss this and more in detail with the Honourable Damien Tudehope – Minister for Finance and Small Business.

Australia’s Federal and State Governments have been working on economic relief packages on a massive scale since the pandemic started. With several initiatives implemented to provide a safety net to businesses that have been severely impacted by covid-19.

According to Minister Tudehope, the Government is focusing on two main strategies; the first is the financial impact on SMEs and the stimulus packages passed to alleviate the financial burden.

NSW current financial relief for businesses

  • $10,000 grants for severely impacted businesses
  • Jobkeeper program
  • Payroll tax reductions
  • A lift of thresholds that accompanies payroll tax
  • Land tax exemptions or deferrals

The second strategy is state funded initiatives; including a billion dollar spend on employing more people into government programs such as cleaners, manufacturers, and business advisors. All this in addition to opening up public courses for people to reskill.

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Seek the right advice for your business model

Emphasis has been placed on the Business Connect Program which provides advice to business owners who need help getting through this period.

The minister went on to state that all business owners should be seeking advice on their business model right now, whether it be from their lawyer, accountant or a business advisor. “This strikes me as something really important because of all the packages that are available. Whether it’s the federal or state government, it is really important for people to get advice.

They need to know what benefits they are entitled to. If their business model has the potential to restructure, and if so, what financial packages can they claim. These are the sorts of things that they should be doing to make sure they reach the other side of the crisis,” he further added.

State sponsored negotiators

The Office of the Small Business Commissioner has enrolled an additional 80 mediators for lessors and lessees who can’t reach an agreement in relation to rental obligation. The aim of the mediators is to be a facilitator, rather than a Government imposer.

By facilitating arrangements between the two parties for the best solutions, it provide equal opportunities and benefits for both parties. Minister Tudehope stated that this is the best conclusion for business. Whereas if the two parties were to appeal to the government to impose solutions, it would inevitably end with one or both sides failing to reach a satisfactory outcome.

Innovation is the key to business reinvention

One of the biggest questions is how do we look at our businesses and reinvent. NSW has already seen plenty of innovators emerging from the pandemic. From the liquor industry turning their manufacturing model from producing alcohol to producing sanitizer. To the food industry engaged in the ubereats or deliveroo type economy, now delivering items beyond F&B.

There’s opportunity for more people to be a provider to government. The state is looking for businesses that can manufacture ventilators and other essential items that are in demand.

Increased funding for government programs

NSW has increased funding for programs like TAFE which now provides free courses for anyone interested in learning new skills. So far, the state has seen over 80,000 people take up new opportunities to up skill.

Minister Tudehope explained, “We’re asking people ‘have you looked at opportunities of having either you or your staff take advantage of a TAFE course to gain a new skill?

While business is potentially down, they can use this time productively, pivot the business, and make it more effective. Or alternatively, look for more business opportunities in a cyber-world we’re potentially living in at the moment?”

Innovation driven economy

The blueprint for the future of NSW, which was created prior to the Covid-19 crisis, identified that a major necessity in 2020 was to be an innovation driven economy. Commenting on this research, the Minister stated, “We have a large emphasis on innovation hubs both at universities and the CSIRO.

As a government, we ought to look at opportunities for startups and innovators to be a great contributor to the economy of NSW. Potentially, to reinvent ourselves in the manufacturing space. Because there is a shift in the world economy, and Australia will have to become more reliant on its own manufacturing industry.”

“Just as we came out of the GFC, the way out of Covid-19 is going to be the innovation industries, and those things which they bring in terms of ideas for the future.” – The Hon. Minister Tudehope

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