Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has unveiled his alternate vision for Australia’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on revitalising local manufacturing through renewable energy and defence industry spending.
Mr Albanese delivered his budget response speech on Thursday, criticising Josh Frydenberg’s second budget for its short-term politics and lack of longer-term ambition or vision despite the “once-in-a-generation chance” to rebuild the economy.
He laid out Labor’s plan to lift Australia out of the recession and rebuild the economy through local manufacturing, a modernisation of the national energy grid, defence industry development, together with a focus on skills. He also outlined significant investments in childcare and public housing.
“We have a once-in-a-generation chance to rebuild our economy and our country for the better. To launch a recovery that delivers a stronger, fairer and more secure future, for all Australians. This budget fails the test,” Mr Albanese said.
“The decisions in this budget should be about setting Australia on a course for the next decade and beyond. Australia is at a crossroad. It is not of our choosing but the choices we make could change everything. This is an opportunity to reset and renew. I want a country that makes things, creates wealth – and shares it.”
The Opposition Leader pitched a “future made in Australia”, with a focus on building local manufacturing and selling to the world.
“This global pandemic has exposed the terrible damage seven years of Liberal government has done to Australian manufacturing. I don’t want our country to always be the last link in a worldwide supply chain,” he said.
“My vision is for us to have the skills and smarts and people and industry to make things here and sell them on the global market. Mass mobilisation of resources, an across the board strategy for job creation, training and skills, lower energy prices, infrastructure, government purchasing and manufacturing and construction.”
He also said that Labor would launch a Defence Industry Development Strategy to ensure that the planned $270 billion investment pipeline over the next decade is used to “develop sovereign industrial and research capabilities and build skills and expertise within the Australian workforce”.
This framework would maximise local content for all major defence material procurements and local defence contracts and publicly disclose this, along with concrete rules to enforce this.
“These investments in national security should also deliver a dividend for national skills, training, research and manufacturing,” he said.
Australia should aim to be a “renewable energy superpower”, with clean energy driving metal manufacturing and hydrogen production, and Labor would create the Rewiring the Nation Corporation to rebuild and modernise the national energy grid, Mr Albanese said.
This would invest in skills and research and training and “kickstart the next generation of manufacturing jobs”, Mr Albanese said.
The federal budget also focused on manufacturing, with a $1.5 billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy focused squarely on six sectors: resources technology and critical minerals processing, food and beverage, medical products, recycling and clean energy, defence and space.
The bulk of this funding will go towards a Modern Manufacturing Initiative, with co-investment grants on offer for large research projects, and commercialisation and investment in non-R&D innovation.
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