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

From Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s impassioned Future Made in Australia speech last month, to Treasurer Jim Chalmers delivering the 2024-25 Budget last night, for the manufacturing sector it is clear some futures shine more brightly than others.

While the Budget sent the message the government was now in an election mindset with a loud focus on easing cost-of-living pressures, if you’re working in advanced manufacturing but not in clean and renewable energy technologies, the pickings were relatively slim.

The broader focus of the National Reconstruction Fund across seven priority areas has significantly narrowed in this budget to three key manufacturing sectors – Critical Minerals, Clean Energy, and Green Technologies

If you’re dubious about the election framing, keep in mind the government could call an early pre-Christmas poll, while March and April would be near full term, which will be May. Yes, that is 12 months away, but December is just seven months. Also, next year’s Budget is already scheduled for March.

Chalmers was pretty chuffed to be able to deliver back-to-back surpluses ($9.3 billion), a first in almost 20 years, but the sting-in-the-tail is the forecast of the following four – probably 10 – years back in the red.

Criticisms have been that the government is now intent on deciding which industries are given priority and investment funding rather than letting the market decide.

And the non-means-tested $300 power bill discount to every household ($325 for small businesses) has raised many an eyebrow, costing $3.5 billion for one year, to which Chalmers counters, “Middle Australia is under pressure too”.  

Food & beverage manufacturing

There was little, if any, budgetary allocation to the sector but Australian Food & Grocery Council CEO, Tanya Barden, said the cost-of-living relief measures and Future Made investments were welcomed.

“It is encouraging to see a budget that addresses the needs of Australians doing it tough. It is also commendable for the Budget to invest in Australia’s future with support to industries of the future and manufacturing,” Barden said.

That said, Barden emphasised the food and grocery industry was of “key national importance”.

“Modernising the food and grocery manufacturing sector through new green technologies is in line with the goals of investing in a Future Made in Australia. This would help future-proof our sector, which supports over 270,000 jobs in Australia.

“Prioritising our food and grocery manufacturing sector through investment incentives would improve innovation, lower carbon emissions, help boost domestic production and grow international presence for Australian-made consumer goods,” she said.

RSM Australia national leader – Manufacturing Services, Jessica Olivier, said it was pleasing to see the announcement of $500 million for the tertiary sector to increase skills in manufacturing and clean energy, as well as the announcement of various initiatives to lift private investment and workforce skills, and boost local supply chains.

“As expected, we saw the federal government set out their agenda for the recently announced Future Made in Australia Act and highlight their priorities by focusing investment on transformational opportunities.

“Last year’s $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund has been rolled into the Future Made in Australia policy, which on a positive note saw a 51 per cent increase in the overall funding allocated to Future Made in Australia totalling $22.7 billion,” Olivier said

More Budget 2024 coverage:

BUDGET 2024: Future Made priorities  

BUDGET 2024: Small Business features

BUDGET 2024: Innovation, education & training

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