Grants and funding, Local Manufacturing, Manufacturing News

Is the NRF doing enough?

The National Reconstruction Fund begun investments recently, with minister for industry Ed Husic and finance minister Katy Gallagher publishing the National Reconstruction Fund Corporation’s Investment Mandate.

Ed Husic, minister for industry and science spoke to the importance of getting this funding underway.

“Signing off on the investment mandate means the NRF can get cracking on rebuilding our manufacturing capabilities and supply chain resilience,” he said.

“Making things here, shipping them everywhere.

“As a government, we’ve said want to deliver a Future Made in Australia.

“And a country that makes things makes a lot of great jobs in our suburbs and our regions,” he said.

Some industry experts have shown concern that the fund may see the $15 billion spread too thinly and it will not have the desired impact.

National Manufacturing Lead from RSM Jessica Olivier spoke about what the NRF should be aiming to do as it begins investing.

“With this week’s official release of the Investment Mandate of the National Reconstruction Fund Corporation, I re-iterate my comments in RSM Australia’s recent report, Innovate, Transform & Thrive: Securing Australia’s Manufacturing Industry, that the Federal Government needs to commit significant funding to manufacturing as both a sector and national capability,” she said.

“It’s also crucial to financially support winners rather than sharing smaller amounts amongst smaller manufacturing companies (we have so many manufacturers in Australia with fewer than 20 staff).”

The NRF has a number of priority funding areas that include:

  • renewables and low emissions technologies
  • medical science
  • transport
  • value-add in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors
  • value-add in resources
  • defence capability
  • enabling capabilities.

Olivier went on to explain what she believes needs to be done to ensure success for the NRF.

“Unfortunately, on reviewing the newly-available Investment Mandate and explanatory statement there is no indication that the NRF will take this essential step,” she said.

“We need to develop and commit to a strong national policy for manufacturing, as the US has done – with preferential trade terms for local businesses. This may take significantly more than the $15b already committed to the NRF.

“I am of a similar view to Jens Goennemann from the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre who was quoted this week saying that Australia should be manufacturing intermediate parts for finished products with a focus on being “better not cheaper.

“The additional jobs and other flow-on effects this would create would be immense, on top of helping to relieve supply chain issues in importing. With provision of parts accounting for a significant proportion of the global trade in manufacturing, it would be great for AUS to get a bigger slice of this,” she said.

The NRF has a board of eight members with expertise drawn from across different corners of the country, the Board will ensure the NRF is a national fund with a national focus, making independent investment decisions and providing high-calibre stewardship for an investment of this size.

The Board’s specialist knowledge spans the NRF’s seven priority investment areas: Renewables and low emissions technologies; Medical science; Transport; Value-add in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors; Value-add in resources; Defence capability; and Enabling capabilities.

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