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Manufacturing push to boost renewables sector

Future Made in Australia will seek to invest in the renewable-energy sector in the move to net zero.

Future Made in Australia will seek to invest in the renewable-energy sector in the move to net zero. Photo: Getty

A push to unlock investment in emerging industries like renewable energy and critical minerals will bring a “path to prosperity”, the treasurer says,

The federal government introduced laws for its signature future made in Australia policy to parliament on Wednesday.

The strategy, which will spend more than $22 billion over 10 years, will look to safeguard Australia’s control over its resources and revive the country’s manufacturing base.

It will also seek to invest in emerging industries in the renewable-energy sector as the global economy shifts towards net-zero emissions.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the strategy would help secure Australia’s place in a changing world.

“Amidst this churn and change our path to prosperity is clear. Australia has been dealt the most incredible set of cards to make ourselves the primary beneficiaries of the net zero economy,” he told parliament on Wednesday.

“The world is moving on and Australia needs to move with it, because if we get stuck in the past, this country will be poorer, it will be more vulnerable and we won’t make the most of the golden opportunity in front of us.”

Under the laws setting out the strategy, a national interest framework would be set up, which will oversee what projects would be funded.

Any project receiving funds would also have to ensure that jobs would be safe and well paid, engage with the communities, strengthen supply chains and develop skilled and inclusive workforces.

“We know just pumping capital into the transformation won’t be enough if we don’t pay attention to how we deploy it,” Chalmers said.

“These principles will be our lodestar to help ensure our people and our economy are the primary beneficiaries of change, and we will consult on the details of how the principles and plans will be put into practice.”

An innovation fund will be set up to support emerging technologies such as green metals and manufacturing in clean energy.

Independent analysis would be carried by the Treasury to determine which sectors of the economy would benefit the most from the investment.

Chalmers said the laws would help make Australia a renewable energy superpower.

“The world is changing with or without Australia.The golden opportunity in front of us will start shrinking if we take any longer,” he said.

“Our goal here is to power the future, not manufacture the past. Our strategy is to engage and invest not retreat and protect. Our emphasis is on attracting private investment, not replacing it.”

Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley accused the government of running an advertising campaign instead of a proper plan for manufacturers, claiming insolvencies in the sector had tripled since Labor came to office.

“How can you have a future made in Australia, when you can’t keep the lights on today?” she said.

The government will need the support of the Greens and cross bench to pass its reforms, with the coalition already signalling it will oppose the plan.

The Greens said they would want to ensure funding included in the plans would not finance new coal and gas projects.

– AAP

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