Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has outlined a “new playbook” for the Australian economy, with a focus on boosting advanced manufacturing, encouraging commercialisation and nurturing tech jobs.
In a speech to the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday, Mr Albanese delivered his most pointed tech-related comments of the election so far, which has largely been bereft of new innovation-focused policies, or even rhetoric.
The wide-ranging speech outlined the reform priorities of an incoming Labor government, with an emphasis on addressing Australia’s commercialisation woes and creating new tech jobs.
“Australia needs a new playbook to seize the future. This is an economy crying out for reform. Real, meaningful reform,” Mr Albanese said in the speech.
“A key part of our national productivity challenge is the need for Australian industry to climb the technological ladder. We need to make things again, and we need to make high-value, high-tech products.”
The Opposition has already pledged a $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund to support the local manufacturing industry, and backed the Tech Council’s goal of 1.2 million new tech jobs by 2030.
A Labor government would work to improve the commercialisation of Australian research, Mr Albanese said.
“Australia produces science at a level commensurate with the size of our economy. But under Scott Morrison’s government, we commercialise that science as poorly as any country in the OECD,” the Labor leader said.
“One of the great microeconomic opportunities ahead of us is turning Australian-led science into Australian jobs. A government I lead will do exactly this.”
Mr Albanese labelled the proposed manufacturing fund as a “transformative commitment” and labelled young firms as the “ultimate problem solvers”.
He also signaled a greater focus on procuring from local SMEs as part of a Buy Australia initiative.
“We’ll make sure the projects we commission bring benefits to Australian companies, and we’ll help small and medium businesses compete for contracts. Because we should be using the power of government to back our own people and our own businesses,” Mr Albanese said.
“These actions will revitalise Australian industry in a way which generates productive, secure and well-paid jobs.”
Over the weekend Mr Albanese also unveiled a $1 billion Value-Adding in Resources Fund to provide capital to mining science technology capability and increase the share of raw materials processed domestically.
The fund will provide loans, guarantees and equity, and will be a part of the larger Reconstruction Fund.
The Opposition has also promised a $500 million Driving the Nation Fund to support the construction of infrastructure for zero-emissions vehicles.
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