Albanese unveils IRA Budget response pledge

The Albanese government has unveiled plans to introduce a Future Made in Australia Act later this year that will serve as an “anchor” for the country’s response to fracturing global industrial policy.

In a speech in Brisbane on Thursday, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will outline a more interventionalist policy designed to help Australia compete with the programs of comparable developed nations.

“We need to be clear-eyed about the economic realities of this decade. Recognising that the game has changed – and the role of government needs to evolve,” Mr Albanese will tell the Queensland Media Club.

With countries like the United States with its US$369 billion Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and CHIPS Act pursuing a ‘small yard, high fence’ approach to critical industries, Mr Albanese will say there is a need for “sharper elbows when it comes to marking out our national interest”.

The European Union, Japan and South Korea have already responded with similar measures, while Canada has “brought in new rules to tighten foreign direct investment in their significant critical minerals reserves”.

“All these countries are investing in their industrial base, their manufacturing capability and their economic sovereignty. This is not old-fashioned protectionism or isolationism – it is the new competition,” the PM will say.

“We will continue to champion global markets and free trade, to build bilateral relationships and multinational co-operation and forge agreements. Equally, we must recognise that the partners we seek are moving to the beat of a new economic reality.

“In their different ways, they are re-aligning their economies to better drive and distribute growth across their own populations, re-building the social licence for economic reform through better job security and stronger wages.”

As Mr Albanese has previously said, Australia will not look to “go dollar-for-dollar with the US’ IRA”, but will “absolutely compete for international investment when it comes to our capability to produce outcomes, the quality of our policies and the power of our incentives”.

“… Part of the objective here is about Australia presenting potential investors with ‘a single front door’. A clear path to investing in Australia, in Queensland, in hydrogen, green metals and advanced manufacturing,” he will say.

While Mr Albanese has not detailed the Future Made in Australia Act in full, it will bring together a “whole package of new existing initiatives to boost investment, create jobs and seize… opportunities”.

“Maximising the strategic value of… government investment fund” like the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund will be part of this, as will the Net Zero Economy Authority to ease the impact of the net zero transition, particularly in regional areas.

“We need to take a fresh look at how government can support small business and start-ups and service industries to diversify our economy and our trade,” the PM will say.

“Not just playing to our traditional strengths with our traditional partners but offering new products and services to new markets.

“We need this change in thinking and approach, because the global economic circumstances are changing in ways far more profound than the consequences of the pandemic or conflict alone.”

More to come

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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