National Reconstruction Fund

"The Albanese government continues to help companies create secure, well-paid jobs for Australians. This government is laying the foundation for our future prosperity and wellbeing as a nation that makes things here and sells them to the world."

Address to the Federation Chamber, Private Members' Business - National Reconstruction Fund

Monday 27 March 2023

I rise today to speak in favour of this motion moved by the member for Werriwa, and I thank her for moving this motion. As someone who was an advocate for science and engineering for more than a decade before coming to this House, I know what a difference this will make. This contrasts with the previous government, which abandoned manufacturing in this country and have no credibility in these policy areas.

Well, support this legislation and we'll be doing a hell of a lot better. The National Reconstruction Fund Corporation will support, diversify and transform Australia's industry and economy, helping to create secure, well-paid jobs; securing future prosperity; and driving sustainable growth. It also represents this government delivering on a $15 billion key election commitment. The NRFC will invest across seven priority areas of the economy: renewables and low-emission technologies, medical science, transport, value-add in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and value-add in resources, defence capability and enabling capabilities—and I will expand on these areas later.

The NRFC is modelled on Labor's successful Clean Energy Finance Corporation. It will be governed by an independent board that makes independent investment decisions, and it will be able to invest through a range of financing, including loans, equity and guarantees. It will be held to a high level of transparency and accountability. Under this legislation, there will be no colour coded spreadsheet in sight, no sports rorts and no car park rorts. Investment decisions will be free from political interference.

As a corporate Commonwealth entity, the NRFC will be subject to the requirements of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 in relation to corporate governance, reporting and accountability. In keeping with our government's commitment to transparency, the corporation will publish investment reports quarterly. It will also provide detailed financial and operational information in its annual reports to parliament. The investments of the NRFC will be guided by an investment mandate issued by the government. The investment mandate will set out clear directions to the board regarding risk, return, investment governance and core government policy priorities.

Australian manufacturing has suffered from nine years of LNP mismanagement. Those opposite had eight—no, sorry, nine—industry ministers in nine years and have left Australia's manufacturing industry in tatters. It was never a priority. The recent pandemic has demonstrated the need to have secure supply chains. The NRF will grow Australia's capacity to manufacture here so that when the next global event paralyses global supply chains Australia will be ready.

I'd like to take this opportunity to remind the chamber of the seven priority areas that the NRF will be targeting. The NRF will value-add in resources, expanding Australia's mining science and technology and ensuring that a greater share of raw materials extracted is processed domestically. It will value-add in the agriculture, forestry and fishery sectors. In transport, it will develop capabilities in transport manufacturing and supply chains, including for cars, trains and shipbuilding. In medical science, it will leverage Australia's world-leading research to provide essential supplies, such as medical devices, personal protective equipment, medicines and vaccines. In renewables and low-emissions technologies, it will pursue opportunities, including for components for wind turbines, the production of batteries and solar panels, and new livestock feed to reduce methane emissions. In defence capability, it will maximise the sourcing requirements from Australian suppliers. In enabling capabilities, it will support capabilities across engineering, data science and software development, including in areas such as AI, robotics and quantum sciences.

The Albanese government continues to help companies create secure, well-paid jobs for Australians. This government is laying the foundation for our future prosperity and wellbeing as a nation that makes things here and sells them to the world. The NRF will finally unlock Australia's manufacturing potential. I commend the incredible work that the Minister for Industry and Science has done with this policy, and I again thank the member for Werriwa for moving this important motion in this chamber.