Industry and Science minister Ed Husic and Finance minister Katy Gallagher will appoint a National Reconstruction Fund Reference Group made up of leaders from industry and finance to guide the development of the $15 billion fund and its investment mandate.
The legislation enabling the establishment of the $15 billion industry development fund sailed through the Labor caucus on Tuesday morning almost without question – just one asking what Senate support for the NRF looked like – and will be introduced to the Parliament on Wednesday.
In a speech to the National Press Club in Canberra, Mr Husic confirmed that the breakthrough NRF is to be governed by an independent board and built on a model similar to the existing Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which was established by the Labor government under Julia Gillard.
Mr Husic said the National Reconstruction fund represented one of the largest peacetime investments in the country’s manufacturing capability and aimed to boost Australia’s sovereign capability and would diversify the national economy.
The Industry department will next week open broad public consultation to further define the scope of the priority areas of the economy for investment, and how the fund will make its investment decisions.
The creation of the fund signals a new direction for industry policy in Australia, Mr Husic said, discarding the notion that governments should not be involved in “picking winners” in terms of which strategic industries should be supported.
“Governments can and should strategically and thoughtfully invest in the industries of the future,” Mr Husic said.
“That’s what our friends and allies are doing. In the United States, companies like SpaceX, SolarCity and Tesla have thrived largely thanks to government investment. Together, those three companies received nearly five billion US dollars from the US government,” he said.
“When we hail the growth of industries in other parts of the world as an example of what can be done here, just know that governments do act strategically and methodically to nurture and grow those industries.
“And this is what we intend to achieve through the National Reconstruction Fund.”
He said the NRF would focus on strategic investments in six priority areas:
- Value-adding in resources.
- Value-adding in agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
- Medical science
- Renewables and low emission technologies
- Defence capabilities
- Enabling capabilities across sectors, such as robotics, artificial intelligence and quantum
Mr Husic also outlined details of a dedicated $1 billion critical technologies fund to focus on quantum technologies, robotics and sensing technologies, and clean energy generation and storage technologies.
“We have a comparative advantage in building and commercialising quantum technologies, developed off the back of decades of research investment in quantum physics,” he said.
“We need to ensure we embed quantum capability and value here in Australia, for the benefit of Australians.”
“This is why this government is delivering Australia’s first National Quantum Strategy, which will be published in the very near future.”
Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.