Innovate or perish. Our Mal’s Innovation Statement (with assists from the Pynester and Wyatt Roy) has the distinct look of ticking the right boxes for a number of Liberal Party constituencies, Let’s reassemble some of the ideas and apportion them to the sectors of influence  such as stockbrokers/investment banks, accountants/administrators and liquidators/lawyers/corporate advisors/fund managers/the ASX — you get the general drift. Good Liberal Party donors (and for much of the ALP as well — only the Greens will feel left out). The sound of ker-ching! echoed around local markets this morning in the biggest end-of-year bonus for the moneyed classes for years. What was shaping up as a tough 2016-17 will now be a money-making paradise, courtesy of the agile, nimble nation. Really, it’s all about self-improvement, via the taxpayer/federal government and the $2 trillion pot of super gold. — Glenn Dyer

Magic puddings. And businesses, lawyers, accountants, slick corporate advisory types and others on the gravy train will be eyeing the fastest way to the $450 million in two funds established: one at the CSIRO and the other a “biomedical translation fund” (translation means able to translate to industry and the commercial sector, in this instance). As well business will have a fairer crack at the $5 billion a year government spends on IT, etc — all honey pots to the usual assortment of urgers, builders, ideas and get-rich merchants who flock to every free dollar they see.

Fund managers will love this because they can start new “funds” designed to mine, sorry, build on the seed money in these funds. Yes, its the collection of proposed changes to tax and corporate laws (including disclosure) that will please bankers, brokers, accountants, adviser types, the “colourful” entrepreneurs of Sydney, Melbourne, the Gold Coast and Perth with fortune-enhancing changes. It’s open season for “entrepreneurs”. Ordinary investors, close your wallets. — Glenn Dyer

Even more yummy puddings. There will be concessional tax treatments available for investors who support innovative startups (is a real estate agency on skates an “innovation”?). These will include a 20% non-refundable tax offset based on the amount of their investment capped at $200,000 for each investor, each year (nirvana); investors will also be able to get a generous 10-year capital gains tax exemption (currently tax is paid on gains on any investments made, except on the family home, which is exempt) if the investment is held for three years. The government scheme also enable companies to claim back prior-year tax losses by relaxing the current “same business test” and replacing it with a more flexible “predominantly similar business test”. Companies will be also able to enter into new business activities and transactions without facing a tax penalty.

The test will apply to losses made in the current and future income years; current tests will continue to apply to existing losses. This change is a particularly juicy one for corporate advisers, lawyers, bankers as it is aimed at encouraging “entrepreneurship” by allowing loss-making companies to seek out new opportunities to return to profitability (this should encourage the use of company shells for backdoor listings on the ASX). — Glenn Dyer

And, yum, there’s more. The innovation statement will also allow greater venture capital investment in Australia, including by introducing a 10% non-refundable tax offset for capital invested in new, early-stage, venture capital limited partnerships and increasing the cap on committed capital from $100 million to $200 million under this scheme. The government will also remove rules that limit depreciation deductions for some intangible assets such as patents. It will now allow them to be depreciated over their economic life as occurs for other assets. The government also intends to introduce legislation in the first half of 2016 on employee share schemes that give employees shares, or the options to buy shares in the company as part of their remuneration (ah, drawing up the necessary documents for these schemes will be a juicy new earner for lawyers and accountants). It’s to be hoped that these new share schemes should be disclosed in the annual report and other filings? — Glenn Dyer

And now to the negative. All of this will make parts of the sharemarket and near sharemarket (unlisted funds and companies) an absolute minefield for anyone without insider knowledge for the next few years. “Light touch” regulation will be the watchword, and when the regulation is as light as a feather duster, the innocent investor gets plucked and the sharpies feather their nests. Let’s hope ASIC and the ASX remember the dominant thing is investor confidence. If we get a few lurks and scandals that are blatant examples of self-interest, or self-enrichment, then the Innovation Statement will be just another free-range theft from the bank accounts/super savings of innocent investors. The whole community is already paying for this by cuts to spending elsewhere, and if there are a bunch of egregious losses and scandals, we will pay a second and possibly a third time over. The 1% will get richer, and its hard to see any real trickle down to the rest of the community. — Glenn Dyer

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey