Industry Growth Centre’ transition is in mid flight

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

The Industry Growth Centres have not been given additional federal funding in the federal budget delivered on Tuesday, despite Labor appearing to back the program in the run up to the election and promising a new centre for the energy sector.

Tuesday’s budget did not reverse a Coalition plan to end government funding for the long running scheme, which was always planned to transition to self-sustainment.

There was also no funding for the new Powering Australia Industry Growth Centre Labor committed to in the election campaign. understands Labor has not abandoned the new centre and intends to fund it in future a future budget.

The six existing Industry Growth Centres – representing Advanced manufacturing; Cybersecurity; Food and Agribusiness; Medical Tech and Pharmaceuticals; Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS); and Oil, Gas and Energy Resources – are now transitioning to self sufficiency.

The Coalition government pooled the remaining funding from the program late last year, with the individual centres asked to compete for it based on their transition plans.

Some centres have been able to demonstrate their impact and detail transition plans.

At Tuesday’s budget, Industry department officials said the final funding was awarded to the centres in June, and that some have been given until 2024 to deliver commitments.

Industry minister Ed Husic rekindled hopes for new government funding when he appeared to back the Industry Growth Centres initiative days out from the federal election after pledging to establish the new Powering Australia growth centre as part of a part of a $100 million National Battery Strategy.

Mr Husic re-committed to a new Powering Australia Industry Growth Centre as recently as last month.

“The success of the growth centres show they had potential to be effective catalysers and mentors for green tech initiatives. Our Australian Made Battery plan will see the establishment of a Powering Australia Industry Growth Centre building on that success,” he said in September.

There was no mention of a new industry growth centre in Tuesday’s budget papers, but is expected to be funded in a future budget during this term of government.

A report into the impact of the Industry Growth Centres program was conducted in 2020, but was never released by the previous government. Labor has committed to releasing the report but is yet to do so.

The Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre this month released its own report showing its results, including a nine-to-one return on government investment. Mr Husic described the impact as “immense”.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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