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Unions welcome Innovation Statement

Unions have welcomed the federal government’s Innovation Statement, released by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on 7 December.

At the centre of the $1 billion programme is a plan to encourage the development of new industries by strengthening ties between the business community, universities and scientific institutions.

A $200 million innovation fund will co-invest in businesses that develop technology from the CSIRO and Australian universities.

ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver said that unions were "very receptive" to the Turnbull Government's emphasis on innovation, after the "negativity and conflict" under former Prime Minister Tony Abbott and were glad to see a renewed focus and funding for R&D to aid the transition from an over-reliance on mining and agriculture.

But he warned that unions would not allow economic modernisation to become a pretext for reducing working peoples’ conditions and weakening current award protections, such as penalty rate provisions.

The Australian Labor Party has also welcomed the thrust of the policy while pointing out that the CSIRO, whose funding was cut savagely in the first Abbott budget, would still be operating below previous funding levels.

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