Australia steps up with ‘Future Made in Australia Act’

11th April 2024 By: Mariaan Webb - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

Australia steps up with ‘Future Made in Australia Act’

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese

The US has the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The European Union introduced its European Economic Security Strategy. Japan has the Economic Security Promotion Act, Korea is reframing its economic policy around a National Security Strategy, while Canada has brought in new rules to tighten foreign direct investment in their critical mineral reserves.

All these countries have implemented strategic frameworks to safeguard their economic interest. Joining this race, Australia unveiled its own initiative, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announcing the ‘Future Made in Australia Act’ on Thursday.

With a focus on innovation, investment and job creation, the proposed legislation will encompass a comprehensive set of initiatives to support local manufacturing, sustainability, the circular economy and securing greater sovereignty over the nation’s resources and critical minerals.

Albanese said the Act would leverage the nation’s unique strengths, including its vast resources, skilled workforce and strategic location, to foster growth across various sectors, from renewable energy to advanced manufacturing.

Speaking at the Queensland Media Club, the Prime Minister emphasised the urgency of the moment, stressing that Australia could not sit on the sidelines as the global economic landscape underwent seismic shifts.

While Albanese provided no price tag and conceded that Australia cannot go “dollar for dollar” with the Biden Administration’s $430-billion IRA, he stressed that it was no auction.

“Australia can absolutely compete for international investment when it comes to our capacity to produce outcomes, the quality of our policies and the power of our incentives,” he said.  

Meanwhile, the ‘Future Made in Australia Act’ announcement received support from the Australian Minerals and Exploration Association (Amec). CEO Warren Pearce said the move was intrinsically linked to the mining and exploration sector, with the nation’s vast critical minerals holding the key to a decade of great opportunity.

He emphasised Amec’s ongoing collaboration with the federal government on a proposal to introduce a Production Tax Credit (PTC), which would offer a 10% tax credit for downstream materials producers.

“By leveraging our unique position with natural resources and expanding investment opportunities by developing new industries right here in Australia, our country can benefit from this once-in-a-lifetime energy transition,” said Pearce.

He noted that PTC was a proven mechanism to incentivise investment in new industries, underscoring its potential to reduce production costs and level the playing field for Australian projects, compared with international counterparts, such as the IRA.

With the world transitioning towards a net-zero economy, Pearce stressed the importance of Australia creating its competitive edge in critical minerals.

Solutions for Climate Australia and the Climate Action Network Australia also welcomed the announcement.

“The world is moving on from polluting industries and this plan will help make sure Australia moves with it.

“This is a huge deal for reducing climate pollution - it means we will be able to take advantage of our sun and wind to make Australia make again.

“If this plan is delivered strategically and at scale, it will stimulate billions of dollars in private investment, good quality jobs, and see communities and ultimately the environment benefit. 

“We’re really excited to see it start rolling out, especially in places like Gladstone and the Hunter Valley where jobs and communities are transitioning away from coal and gas,” said Barry Traill, director of solutions for Climate Australia.