The federal government will release details of its proposed Future Made in Australia Office in the next several weeks, including directions that will be taken on Labor’s Buy Australian Plan procurement reforms.
A public consultation process on procurement reforms that seek to open up government contracts to local industry will also start within weeks.
Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic told InnovationAus.com that government procurement was an important lever for building local industry capability, a key goal of the Albanese government.
“In the coming weeks you will find us releasing more detail about the [Future Made in Australia Office] and engaging in public consultation around that,” Mr Husic said.
“I have said a number of times that I see the value of us being able to reform procurement, to open up contracts to Australian industry as part of a process of strengthening onshore capability.
“I see the [National Reconstruction Fund] as a big driver of capability development, and then we need to put that capability to work – some avenues like the Buy Australian Plan – and the Future Made in Australia can help to drive that.”
Mr Husic said he expected to see specific industry plans being developed out of the Future Made in Australia (FMIA) Office that can help to meet some of the government’s other objectives. For example, he said there was a lot of work bring done right now on offshore wind generation projects.
“And if we can get that right, then [those projects] will lead to a lot of work for Australian industry, potentially. And we think those industry plans [from the FMIA Office] can help to better coordinate that work,” he said.
Mr Husic said that where Australian industry has a demonstrated capability and where they can deliver for government, then it made sense to open up the government procurement processes to local industry.
Federal Labor plans to “see how we can use government contracts as a mechanism to strengthen capability and to deliver what government needs in terms of goods and services, while also strengthening Australian businesses through that process.”
“We will be making a set of announcements in the coming weeks on that, so you will see how it will take shape,” he said.
Mr Husic conceded that “a bit of cultural change” that might be needed within the public service to produce the kind of local industry participation outcomes from procurement reform that the government seeks.
But “it is clear that this government has a mandate on procurement reform, that we are wanting to get this done, and that we see a role for it in our broader plans for reinvigorating Australian industry and making sure that we’ve got more onshore capability,” Mr Husic said.
“And so, I think that signal has been received.”
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