• Reviewing the 2024 Budget (l-r) Jim Chalmers, Anthony Albanese, Katy Gallagher. (Source: Instagram)
    Reviewing the 2024 Budget (l-r) Jim Chalmers, Anthony Albanese, Katy Gallagher. (Source: Instagram)

Chalmers said the Future Made in Australia agenda would be guided by a new National Interest Framework to “better align economic incentives with our national interests” under a Future Made in Australia Act.

The framework will guide the government’s decision making when it comes to significant public investments, particularly those used to incentivise private investment at scale. Prioritised industries will be split into two streams:

  1. net zero transformation: sectors that can make a significant contribution to achieving net zero, where Australia has grounds to build enduring sources of comparative advantage; and
  2. economic security and resilience: sectors that are critical to our resilience, are vulnerable to supply disruptions and that require support to unlock sufficient private investment.

$22.7 billion was allocated to Future Made over the next 10 years, not entirely on par with that of the US, EU, Japan, Korea, or Canada as Albanese referenced in his speech, but in keeping with the tradition of the National Reconstruction Fund of lacking detail on how the program will be managed and capital spent.

Back in April the PM explained, and Chalmers reiterated, that Future Made would corral into the same tent pre-budget announcements (below), the PsiQuantum deal ($1 billion project in Queensland), improving environmental approvals processes, mapping the Australian continent for critical materials ($566.1m to Geoscience Australia, predominantly allocated to Western Australia), and funding for several rare earth metals production and processing projects ($840 million for Arafura’s rare earth metals production in the Northern Territory).

The National Reconstruction Fund, Solar Sunshot, Hydrogen Headstart, Critical Minerals Facility, Net Zero Economy Authority – were all earmarked to come under the Act, as will any new initiative that falls into this net:

  • affordable and reliable clean energy;
  • a better and fairer education system;
  • skilled workers, secure jobs, fair wages;
  • modern infrastructure;
  • shared ambition with business and private capital; and
  • and a positive regulatory environment.

And to that the budget did deliver.

$14 billion in tax credits for critical mineral miners and green hydrogen producers, $523.2 million to establish the Battery Breakthrough initiative, and $68 million to attract key industries.

Chalmers also announced a “new front door” for investors, making it simpler to invest in Australia. It will streamline engagement with government, help companies and investors navigate the approvals process, and fast-track major projects.   

Olivier said, “It is welcome to see moves to both support and streamline regulatory approvals for the Future Made in Australia agenda, as well as allocating funding for international investment to encourage collaboration with industry, investors, and major stakeholders. This should attract and facilitate major investment – manufacturers will welcome that.”

What about the start-ups?

The budget allocated $1.7 billion to the Future Made in Australia Innovation Fund was well received, but again, funds will be directed to “pilot and demonstration projects and early-stage development in priority sectors, including renewable hydrogen, green metals, low carbon liquid fuels and clean energy technology manufacturing such as batteries”.

It will be spent over 10 years and administered by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

The tight focus of the fund makes more sense when you consider last year’s budget announced the Industry Growth Program (IGP), allocating $392.4 million over four years and $68 million per year ongoing to help SMEs and start-ups commercialise and grow.  

As reported, there hasn’t been much visible showering of those funds to date, but one part of the program – the Industry Growth Program Advisers – have been working with more than 340 companies since November. `

Industry minister Ed Husic described the IGP as filling in the “missing middle” to grow small start-ups into bigger start-ups so they can go to the NRF with an investment-ready proposal.

Husic said the 340 businesses accessing the IGP advisers showed a “healthy pipeline of new know-how that’s ready for commercialisation”.

Why does this feel like SMEs are the Supercar to the Future Made in Australia Innovation Fund’s focus on Formula 1.

More Budget 2024 coverage:

BUDGET 2024: A Future Made for certain industries

BUDGET 2024: Small Business features

BUDGET 2024: Innovation, education & training

BUDGET 2024: Excise pleas ignored

Packaging News

In the first year of PKN’s Women in Packaging Awards programme, industry has stepped up with meaning. The response has been phenomenal, and the judges had their work cut out for them selecting the finalists from a competitive field of high-calibre nominees.

At The Hive Awards in Sydney today, the Best Packaging category was won by Don Smallgoods, part of George Weston Foods, for its resealable flow wrap pack for sandwich fillers and other smallgoods. This innovative packaging is a departure from the conventional thermoformed packs and addresses consumer demands for better functionality, sustainability, and product visibility.

Applications for the 2024 APCO Annual Awards are now open, and are open to all of industry to apply.