Australian Computer Society president John Ridge has thrown his support behind calls to reinstate the 150 per cent tax concession on Research and Development projects in the IT&T industry.
The 150 per cent concession was cut back to 125 per cent during the 1996 budget, in what Ridge considers a bureaucratic rather than a political decision. He believes the concession needs to be re-instated to encourage the development of new technologies on Australian shores.
Ridge is concerned that the bad apples among the IT bunch which have tried to defraud the Research and Development schemes of the past have ruined the chances of many genuine developments.
"There were probably a few people out there who were rorting the system, which is sad," he said. "I'd rather have 95 per cent genuine investment and 5 per cent rorting than reduce the attraction of R&D altogether. We need to encourage R&D investment by every means possible."
The Australian Computer Society has been in discussions with Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA) Minister Richard Alston, and Ridge applauds Alston's calls to have the Research and Development schemes reviewed with an eye to returning to the 150 per cent tax concession scheme.
"He [Alston] sees the value in Research and Development and it was very pleasing to see him come out and make a statement on it," said Ridge.
In an ideal world, the current level of research and development funding could supply all Australian industries, Ridge said.
"We have to accept that there is a limited supply," he said. "But in my view, which is obviously biased, I think the money is better spent on the IT&T sector. I believe one of our greatest assets is the innovative nature of our people."