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Joyce can’t pick every winner

Joyce can’t pick every winner

Innovation is too important to leave up to Steven Joyce’s best guesses, the Green Party said today.

After the John Key government abolished the research and development tax credit, the Government has to try to pick winners in innovation using mechanisms such as the Technology Grants, which awarded $25 million to eight New Zealand businesses last week.

“The Government’s Research & Development (R&D) grant scheme relies on Steven Joyce and his officials picking winners”, said Green Party Co-leader Russel Norman.

“Steven Joyce is a smart man, and the officials are no doubt pretty smart too, but there is no way they can know everything about everything.

“The nature of the industries and technologies involved in R&D in this country are complex and often obscure to outsiders like National Party Ministers and Government officials.

“Businesses have told us that if they are doing deep R&D in a very narrow field it can take a huge effort to educate the officials on the value of the work, and it is very difficult for the officials to judge the merit of the work. That’s why many of those businesses don’t bother to apply for research grants.

“Relying on people like Steven Joyce and Government officials to try and understand everything about an obscure research area and then make a judgement call on whether it deserves funding is a gamble.

“That’s why it was short-sighted of this Government to abolish the R&D tax credit, which was available to incentivise research across the board. The advantage of the R&D tax credit is that businesses will get some support for their R&D regardless of whether Joyce and his officials support it or even understand it.

“The tax credit was an important tool for innovation because it didn’t rely on awarding funding based on hand-picking winners.

“Joyce has become a Muldoon-like figure in New Zealand, backward looking and directive, and he now has his hands all over the R&D funding system. His record on picking winners such as mining and motorways is less than stellar. But even with a more forward looking Minister there should still be a place for the R&D tax credit because Ministers and officials can’t know everything.”

ENDS

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