The Labor Party has said it will create a $1 billion advanced manufacturing fund for Australian industry if it is successful at the next federal election.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten and shadow industry minister Kim Carr have promised the fund will help grow manufacturing businesses.
“There is currently a finance gap for innovative small and medium enterprises in the manufacturing sector,” Shorten said in a statement.
“Business leaders such as the Australian Industry Group have said that financial institutions are ‘downgrading’ manufacturing industries and making access to finance more difficult and expensive for businesses across the entire sector, regardless of individual circumstances or risk.”
Labor claim the fund will cost $34 million to run over four years and will be considered an investment in financial assets, meaning it won’t have to be included in the federal budget’s balances.
Senator Carr said the fund would “provide opportunities for companies that want to invest in themselves, but can’t get access to finance from the banking system”.
“Australian manufacturers are facing acute difficulties at the moment, having real trouble finding access to finance to develop new technologies and to develop new jobs,” Carr added.
The Manufacturing Future Fund (MFF), which is designed to grow the industry and the economy, has also been backed by the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU).
“The AMWU has been calling for a mechanism to help manufacturing companies secure finance for some time,” said AMWU Assistant National Secretary Glenn Thompson.
“We know the banks have been downgrading manufacturing when it comes to assessing the risk around providing commercial loans and that is holding back companies which could employ more workers.
“Whether they be additive manufacturing, new forms of computation, design and censoring, new materials and their applications or advanced applications of biological breakthroughs, a large raft of new technological fields are revolutionising manufacturing globally.”