Startups see little help from Australian politicians: survey

Turnbull seen as most supportive politician, but most startups vote for nobody

More than two-thirds of Australian startup founders can’t name an Australian politician who has been especially supportive of the startup scene, according to the results of a Startup Muster survey for 2015.

Startup Muster is a survey of the Australian startup community run by Murray Hurps, general manager of the Sydney co-working space Fishburners. The 2015 Startup Muster survey collected 658 completed responses to a 71-question survey.

Malcolm Turnbull, who works on tech issues as the federal minister of communications, got 10 per cent of the vote for “a politician that’s been particularly supportive of the startup industry.”

While Turnbull had the highest vote among politicians, a much larger percentage of startup founders voted “None” (45 per cent) or “Unsure” (27 per cent).

The politician who got the second-most votes after Turnbull was Alex Greenwich (3 per cent), an independent member of the New South Wales Parliament who represents Sydney.

Bruce Billson, who deals with startup matters in his capacity as the NSW minister for small business, received just 1 per cent of the vote.

“Creating the right conditions to promote innovation and boost productivity is a priority for the government,” said Turnbull, commenting on the survey. “We are improving the regulatory conditions that enable startups and tech companies to thrive.”

Turnbull noted recent moves by the government to address tax treatment of employee share option plans and to consider laws to promote crowdfunding of startups.

“We must get out of the way of business and get the regulatory settings right to ensure that incentives exist to encourage our most promising tech entrepreneurs to turn that great idea into a truly transformative product.”

Shadow communications minister Jason Clare didn't receive any votes according to Startup Muster but nonetheless gave his support to startups—and disagreed with Turnbull—in a separate statement.

"Governments don’t create successful startups. People do that. Smart people. Innovative people. But government does play a role. And it is more than just getting out of the way.”

The startup founders surveyed seemed to agree with Clare on the last point, with only 4.4 per cent of startups saying that the most important thing for government to do was get out of the way.

Instead, more than a third of startups (38 per cent) said the most important thing the government can do to support the industry is provide funding and grants. About 29 per cent said it was to provide incentives to investors and founders.

Adam Bender covers telco and enterprise tech issues for Computerworld and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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Tags surveystartupsAlex GreenwichStartup MusterpoliticiansAustraliaParliamentgovernmentpoliticsJason ClareMalcolm Turnbull

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