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Labor moves on $15 billion manufacturing pledge

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Prime Minister Anthony Albanese went to the May election with a promise to set up the fund and a pledge to “make more things here in Australia” and revive the manufacturing sector.

Husic will use a speech to the National Press Club on Tuesday to set out the goals for the fund in manufacturing across seven priority sectors: resources; agriculture, forestry and fisheries; transport; medical science; renewables and low-emission technologies; defence; and tech fields such as financial technology, artificial intelligence, robotics and quantum computing.

“Around the world, industry policy is being remade to shore up local manufacturing capability,” he says in a draft of the speech.

“Now, Australia can be a bystander or it can be a driver of change. We want to see Australia once more at the forefront of technological innovation and advanced manufacturing to make sure Australians benefit from our home-grown ingenuity.”

Companies will apply to the NRF for support that could include equity or debt funding, as with the CEFC, but the guidelines are yet to be defined.

A reference group is expected to be formed to advise Husic on the board that will run the NRF and guide the decisions on which projects to support.

The outcome will be a contrast from the industry grants the Coalition used in power over the past decade, including programs where former prime minister Scott Morrison had the ultimate authority under the rules to decide individual grants.

Morrison had the final say over $828 million in grants in the industry portfolio in the year before the federal election at the same time he held secret authority over five ministries.

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