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PM's $1.5 billion plan for Australia to 'make things'

Politics

Australian manufacturers across six priority areas will receive more help to expand in high-value areas through an almost $1.5 billion budget boost.

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison will outline the coalition’s manufacturing strategy at the National Press Club in Canberra on Thursday.

“We make things in Australia. We do it well. We need to keep making things in Australia,” he will say.

The strategy targets six priority areas including mining, food and drink, medical products, recycling and clean energy, defence and space.

Industry-led teams of experts will design road maps for each area by April next year, with goals for the next two, five and 10 years.

The Government will make $1.3 billion available in Tuesday’s federal budget to partner with private investors across three manufacturing streams.

One will dish out grants for large projects supporting collaboration between businesses and researchers.

A separate stream will spend money on turning manufacturers’ ideas into products and other innovation.

The third will help manufacturers integrate into local and international supply chains and markets.

The money will be spent over four years after the road maps are complete.

Morrison will outline the need for manufacturing to be supported with energy, industrial relations, tax, skills and deregulation policies.

“Too often in the past industry policy has ignored these foundational elements in the vain hope that subsidies and workarounds could make up for broader deficiencies in our economic settings,” he is expected to tell the Press Club.

A further $107.2 million will identify supply chain vulnerabilities of critical goods and services with medicines and medical equipment the initial focus.

Food, chemical and plastics will follow, while cash will be made available for businesses to address issues in supply chains.

A manufacturing modernisation program will be extended by a further $52.8 million, with industry expected to spend $3 for every dollar the government invests.

The scheme will fast-track technology upgrades and allow up to 150 local businesses invest in ready-to-start projects.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese used a major speech on Wednesday to call for new jobs in manufacturing, starting with Australian-made trains.

“This is just one example of how the government should use its purchasing power to create good, secure jobs while strengthening our sovereign industrial and research capabilities,” he said.

He said a Labor government would take steps to make Australia a renewable energy superpower.

“We can be the land of cheap and endless energy — energy that could power generations of metal manufacturing and other energy intensive manufacturing industries.”

-AAP

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