James Riley
April 5, 2019

An innovation shy Shorten reply

Budget 2019

An innovation shy Shorten reply

Bill Shorten: The focus on renewables and clean technology is a good thing for Australia

Shadow industry minister Kim Carr spent Wednesday chiding his government counterpart – the Minister for Industry, Science and Research Karen Andrews – because she “couldn’t even get the word ‘innovation’ into the Treasurer’s speech.”

We hope that Senator Carr will now spend all of Friday in deep self-reflection, having failed to get the word ‘innovation’ into Labor leader Bill Shorten’s budget reply speech.

It’s a sad day in paradise when the foundation documents that describe the future directions for government policy are so bereft of new economy thinking.
And so it was with Bill Shorten’s budget reply speech.

If you work in tech or entrepreneurial innovation – or if you are concerned about where employment opportunities for your kids are going to come from – there were slim pickings indeed.

Bill Shorten made much of reframing the economic debate and more talk of fairness, but did so without reference to the looming challenges of tech-induced job displacement. It’s not like Josh Frydenberg went there either, but even so, it does seem an extraordinarily irresponsible omission, given that we are at five minutes to midnight.

At least Mr Shorten made the case for renewed and substantial reinvestment in education. 

He also made hay while the sun shines in relation to investment in renewables, and investment in clean technology.

In fact, Mr Shorten spelt out the five industries where a future Labor Government would invest, and where Australia could be world leaders.

These were:

  • Agriculture and Tourism
  • Hydrogen Energy
  • Science and research
  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Mineral exploration, to unearth new wealth

He also recommitted the continuation of investment in defence industries and 
But it was in the ever popular sector where the Opposition leader opened up n future plans (and like the government, has decided Australia should develop a Lithium-ion battery manufacturing capability.

“Embracing renewables will also create thousands upon thousands of new jobs for Australia,” Mr Shorten said. “Labor will provide a $2000 payment to families who want to join the fight against climate change and the fight to lower their power bills by installing a battery storage system.”

“And here’s the remarkable thing – we already have every single resource to make a lithium battery, right here in Australia,” he said.

“So instead of the usual trope of shipping the minerals overseas and buying back the finished product at vastly inflated prices, let’s make the batteries here.”

“And let’s do this with electric vehicles and charging equipment and stations too … supported by Australia’s first Electric Vehicle Policy.

“And rather than relying on China and India to accept our plastic and waste … or to leave it choking our waterways and killing our marine life, let’s recycle it here at home,” Mr Shorten said.

“When it comes to clean technology, I believe we can make three words famous right around the world: Made in Australia.” 

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