Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed Labor’s concerns that the Abbott Government is dragging its feet on reforms to introduce national Crowd Sourced Equity Funding (CSEF) laws.
Last week Labor restated its long held view that the Abbott Government has failed to provide a fast, clear pathway for the introduction of CSEF laws despite its desperate claims last week that a $7.8m funding Budget allocation equalled CSEF reform.
This delay is costing the nation – with talented entrepreneurs being forced to offshore their operations to countries that have legal CSEF funding platforms.
In explaining the delay to the introduction of CSEF reform, Mr Turnbull revealed that "Government is quite hard actually" and then sought to blame Treasury for the delay, claiming:
"The answer is a problem bound up in the culture and bureaucracy of the Treasury, to be quite frank - it's not a political problem."
Malcolm Turnbull, Australian Financial Review, 19 May 2015
Instead of blame-shifting, the Abbott Government should act quickly to remedy its failure to lead the CSEF reform process.
The Government should take the opportunity in Parliament next week to outline a revised schedule to speed up the reform process, spelling out when draft CSEF laws will be presented for debate.
Labor again restates its willingness to work in a bipartisan way with the Abbott Government to help fast-track the introduction of these reforms.
Accelerating CSEF reform may help close the ever widening gap that is emerging between Australia and its competitors in providing new funding channels to support early stage innovation.
Labor’s CSEF position paper - released in December 2014 - outlined a range of steps that could be taken to build upon the recommendations of an independent report into the introduction of CSEF to Australia.
In his Budget Reply, Bill Shorten announced Labor will work with the banks and finance industry to develop Start-Up Finance, a partial guarantee scheme which will improve access to finance for Australian micro-businesses.
Under Start-Up Finance, Labor will examine partially guaranteeing small loans from banks and finance institutions to give start-ups the affordable capital they need to get going with their business.