The plan of the Albanian government for $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund to invest in technology, science and manufacturing became a reality today after the Senate passed the legislation before the House of Representatives gave its final approval around lunchtime today.
Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic said passing the legislation provides a major Labor election commitment that paves the way for Australia to ramp up high-quality manufacturing and jobs.
“The government’s $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund (NRF) is one of the largest peacetime investments in Australian manufacturing capacity,” he said.
“The most successful modern economies are built on strong, advanced manufacturing capabilities. The NRF will help deliver this for Australia. We want Australia to become a country that makes things, a country that has confidence in the know-how and ability to get the job done.”
The way the fund will function is modeled after the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which has invested in a range of climate technology startups.
The NRF will also be managed by an independent board that makes independent investment decisions. They are guided by even priority areas, including next-generation materials development, value-added and advanced manufacturing, from clean energy and mining science to medtech and agriculture and food.
Misha Schubert, CEO of Science & Technology Australia, said the fund is a powerful new tool to drive and scale up the country’s economic development and diversification.
“It will help to deepen Australia’s science and technology innovation – which is essential for strengthening our national prosperity, creating jobs and securing new revenue streams,” she said.
“This gives Australia a significant boost to investment capital for next-generation materials development, value-adding and advanced manufacturing – the foundations of a strong, modern economy. This will help boost sovereign wealth and economic complexity.”
Rebecca Iwanuscha, Innovation Incentives Partner at Grant Thornton, said the fund “is a step in the right direction to grow Australia’s innovation agenda,” demonstrating the importance of innovation and R&D.
She said companies that were previously ineligible for direct grant financing can now claim further tax benefits related to R&D and manufacturing, particularly in renewable energy, medical science, resources, agriculture, defense, technology and transport.
“The NRF will support Australian capability and emerging technologies in seven key areas through loans, guarantees and equity, which we know will be a welcome initiative,” Iwanuscha said.
“I also look forward to May’s federal budget where I hope the government will expand its plans to continue supporting Australian business spending on innovation.”
More about the National Reconstruction Fund is available on the the website of the Dept of Industry, Science and Resources.