Thursday, May 30, 2024

Small business to benefit from innovation package

The Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda contains a number of significant reforms which will assist businesses by encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation, says Minister for Small Business Kelly O’Dwyer.

Ms O’Dwyer said the Government is aiming to make it easier for start-ups and small businesses to attract the funding and investment they need by providing Australia’s first dedicated framework to enable crowd-sourced equity funding.

“The changes will also maintain adequate protections for mum and dad investors who share in the risks and successes of these businesses,” she said.

The Government has committed to changing the laws around employee share schemes (ESS) to help businesses attract and retain quality staff. Currently, ‘offer’ documents to employees have to be lodged with ASIC and could result in the release of commercially sensitive information. The Government plans to limit the requirement for these documents to be made publicly available. It will also consult with industry on options to amend the disclosure requirements to make ESS more user friendly.

“It’s also important that, if a business gets into trouble, the operators and owners have a real opportunity to get themselves out of it,” Ms O’Dwyer said.

“After considering the Productivity Commission’s ‘Report on Business Set-up, Transfer and Closure’, the Government has committed to making some initial changes to Australia’s insolvency laws, which currently focus too much on penalising and stigmatising business failure.”

The Government will introduce a safe harbour for directors from personal liability for insolvent trading if they appoint a restructuring adviser to develop a turnaround plan for the company, and make ipso facto clauses, which have the purpose of allowing contracts to be terminated solely due to an insolvency event – unenforceable if a company is undertaking a restructure.

The National Retail Association (NRA) has welcomed the federal Government’s four-year, $1.1 billion plan to usher in an ‘ideas boom’. NRA CEO Trevor Evans said the retail sector was well placed as a mostly unregulated sector to lead the innovation drive.

“Retail is already at the forefront of digital disruption and global change,” he said. “While it has faced great challenges since the introduction of e-commerce, retailers who are now flourishing have done so by recognising and taking advantage of new technologies in order to grow alongside changing behaviour and greater consumer demands.

“The measures announced (this week) will give Australian retailers far greater potential to not only participate in ideas collaboration and risk-taking, but to invest in and influence the ensuing change in national culture.”

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