Australia’s prime minister has unveiled an ambitious plan to boost domestic manufacturing and to supercharge the nation’s economic growth.

Speaking to the Queensland Media Club on Thursday, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced that the Government will create a Future Made in Australia Act.

The Act will bring together new and existing measures which are designed to strengthen the nation’s economy and manufacturing sector in a comprehensive and coordinated manner.

It will help to coordinate a reform agenda which the Government intends to outline before the end of the year.

Details will be worked through in consultation with business, unions and others.

However, the Act will focus on initiatives in areas such as competition reform, boosting renewable and other infrastructure and making better use of Australian resources including critical minerals.

In his speech, Albanese said that specific examples of areas which the Act will cover include:

  • investing in new industry
  • empowering the New Zero Economy Authority to support resource communities
  • exploring how government procurement can support small business and local manufacturing as well as sustainability and the circular economy.
  • efficient and effective combinations of financing facilities and investor incentives
  • securing greater security over resources and critical minerals
  • competition reform
  • maximising community benefits from renewable energy projects and fast-tracking the infrastructure that is needed to support them
  • maximising the strategic value of government investment funds and the national superannuation system; and
  • reform to education to promote skills development and to ensure that more Australians in regional and suburban areas can access TAFE or university opportunities.

The latest announcement comes as several developments worldwide have underscored the importance of local manufacturing across many economies.

First, the COVID pandemic and associated trade and border restrictions highlighted vulnerabilities which can occur within the international supply chain.

Beyond this, there is growing concern about the increasing dominance of China in terms of manufacturing for materials which are critical inputs to important industries.

An example can be seen through the clean energy sector.

In 2022, China accounted for 78 percent of all solar PV panel production and two-thirds (66 percent) of all wind turbines.

China also dominates the market for processing of minerals such as copper, lithium, nickel and others which are essential components in many of today’s clean energy technologies.

Such a reliance is causing growing concern across many countries including Australia that the ability to construct and maintain critical energy systems will be increasingly reliant upon supplies from a singular source nation.

In his speech, Albanese reiterated the importance of open economies and international trade as being foundational to Australia’s economic success.

Nevertheless, he said that nations around the world are increasingly recognising the importance of local domestic supplies in critical industries.

The United States has implemented the Inflation Reduction Act and CHIPS Acts and pursued what they call a ‘small yard, high fence’ approach to critical industries, Albanese said.

Meanwhile, the European Union, Japan and South Korea have are all reframing their economic policies around local security related considerations.

Furthermore, Canada has tightened rules around foreign direct investments in its significant critical mineral reserves.

When developing the Act and reform package, Albanese said the government would seek to operate as a partner, investor and enabler.

In doing this, he said the Government would be guided by three principles.

First, there is a need for government to invest at scale and to maximise national reward. This moves away from a ‘hope for the best’ approach in which the priority was to minimise government risk.

Second, the Government would be more assertive in capitalising on areas of national advantage and building sovereign capability in areas of national interest.

As examples of this approach, Albanese points to the SunShot solar manufacturing program, the Hydrogen Headstart program and the Critical Minerals Facility.

Third, the Government will continue to strengthen and invest in the foundations of economic success.

This includes reliable and affordable clean energy, education reform, skills and employment with secure jobs and fair wages, modern infrastructure, a shared ambition with business and private capital and a positive regulatory environment.

He said that only government has the size, strength and strategic capacity to absorb some of the risk that is required for Australians to share in strategic rewards.

He said the new Act would serve as an anchor point for reform efforts.

“Only Government can draw together the threads from across the economy and around our nation,” Albanese said.

“To anchor this reform and secure this growth, today I announce that this year our Government will create the Future Made in Australia Act.

“We will bring together in a comprehensive and coordinated way a whole package of new and existing initiatives.

“To boost investment, create jobs and seize the opportunities of a future made in Australia.”

Industry and science lobby groups broadly welcomed the announcement.

Australian Industry Group CEO Innes Willox welcomed the outline of the proposed new Act.

But he warned of ‘clear risks and unanswered questions’ that will need to be addressed as the new Act is developed and worked through.

In particular, Willox welcomed several aspects of the announcement.

The focus on making more things locally was a critical part of addressing supply chain vulnerability in critical areas such as defence capability.

Also welcome is the focus on coordination of government action.

This is particularly important as industry policy is fraught with pitfalls and is most effective when there are clear objectives, well-designed policy instruments and clear responsibility for implementation and administration of policies.

Finally, after decades of ‘false dawns’ and policy delays, there was a clear need to accelerate progress on decarbonisation across the economy.

The Government’s focus on this area was welcome, Willox said.

However, Willox said that risks in the announcement around greater government intervention can be seen through policy and political failures of the pars.

Too often when intervening in the economy, Willox says that governments distort activity, create unintended consequences and are slow to adopt as circumstances change and flaws are exposed.

Yet the announcement invites industry to ‘make a leap of faith that more government guidance and support is the answer to our ills,’ Willox says.

To make the plan work, he said that governments need to focus on better delivering on their own responsibilities.

In particular, he says that action is needed to:

  • Overhaul a dysfunctional TAFE system and create a skills and training system which is fit to deliver upon current and future needs
  • Address critical housing and infrastructure shortages
  • Simply and better coordinate regulatory structures and ensure that all new regulation is subject to thorough cost-benefit analysis.
  • Reform taxation arrangements to reduce distortions and areas of unfair tax burden.

“The broad contours of the Government’s plan to introduce a Future Made in Australia Act announced by the Prime Minister today foreshadow several positive directions,” Willox said.

“But the approach also holds clear risks and unanswered questions which will need to be addressed as the plan is fleshed out.”

Meanwhile, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) has welcomed the vision which the Prime Minster outlined.

ATSE says the plan represents a chance to capitalise on opportunities in energy, manufacturing, advanced technologies and more.

In particular, ATSE has called for the government to:

“The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering welcomes the vision for innovation and prosperity that the Prime Minister Anthony Albanese outlined today,” a statement from the group read.

ATSE has long called for ambitious action to take advantage of the opportunities ahead of us in energy, manufacturing, advanced technologies and more.

Such action will crucially help arrest Australia’s slowing productivity growth and declining economic complexity that puts us 93rd in the world.

“We look forward to seeing the details of the new initiatives as they are announced.”


Enjoying Sourceable articles? Subscribe for Free and receive daily updates of all articles which are published on our site


Want to grow your sales, reach more new clients and expand your client base across Australia’s design and construction sector?

Advertise on Sourceable and have your business seen by the thousands of architects, engineers, builders/construction contractors, subcontractors/trade contractors, property developers and building industry suppliers who read our stories across the civil, commercial and residential construction sector