Upcoming federal industry agenda to have “tough love” approach

Industry minister Ian Macfarlane has said that the upcoming National Industry Investment and Competitiveness Agenda will follow a “tough love” approach to assistance.

The Australian Financial Review reports that the long-awaited agenda – which was announced last December in response to the announcement that Holden would end its manufacturing operations in 2017 – was predicted to support businesses in areas of competitive advantage.

“We would [like] to see our support – taxpayers’ support including a billion dollars in programs in my portfolio alone – go into industries that will be competitive in the long term,” the AFR reports Macfarlane as telling an Australian Food and Grocery Council event yesterday.

The agenda, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s office when it was released, will address areas such as business costs (including energy and regulation), encouraging innovation through employee share schemes and measures to help commercialise ideas, increasing productivity through infrastructure, encouraging SME growth, and incentives to increase investment.

The taskforce developing the agenda is chaired by prime minister Tony Abbott and includes Macfarlane, the treasurer and the trade minister.

Members of the prime minister’s Business Advisory Council – which includes representatives from Bluescope Steel and BHP Billiton – were briefed on the competitiveness agenda on Monday.

Macfarlane also told the AFGC event that the approach would likely “entail pain” and be of a “tough love” nature, involving “saying to industries you have to transition to a space that is competitive.” He cited the billions of dollars in subsidies previously awarded to the automotive industry as an example of a flawed industry policy.

The NIICA is expected to be released before the end of the year. 

Image: The Australian