IN a joint press release with Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has today attempted to address the fallout from Holden’s decision to leave the country by announcing a new National Industry Investment and Competiveness Agenda involving a taskforce review and a $100 million growth fund for the manufacturing sector.

“Today, the government is announcing a wide-ranging industry initiative comprising targeted support for regions impacted by the wind-down of Holden’s manufacturing operations by 2017; reviews of the South Australian and Victorian economies; and development of a National Industry Investment and Competitiveness Agenda which will focus on our strengths, create jobs and exploit our competitive advantages,” said the Coalition Government in its statement.

“Industry policy in Australia must become proactive to ensure that our manufacturing industry is competitive and incentivised to create jobs and investment.

“We will deliver support for the workers and communities impacted by the recent automotive closure announcements but will do so based on state specific economic recommendations so that scarce Budget resources can be deployed to grow the economies in both states.”

“To support the reviews, the government’s response will include the development of a $100 million growth fund to support economically responsible initiatives in regions facing pressure in their manufacturing sectors.

“The fund will support business and research and development opportunities and will complement the direct support available to Holden workers as part of existing Commonwealth and Holden support schemes. We will also work to ensure that automotive workers have their skills and competencies recognised and certified.”

The government’s $100 million manufacturing growth fund will be administered by the Department of Industry and commence in 2014/15. The fund will provide:

  • Support for existing component manufacturers in Victoria and South Australia to adjust their business output or business model to non-automotive and overseas customers, or who commence or expand export activity;
  • Grants to existing and/or new businesses that establish or expand manufacturing operations in South Australia or Victoria, with preference for those businesses that employ former automotive workers; and
  • Grants to aid the commercialisation of research and development in the automotive component manufacturing sector, leading to new products or processes.

The final design of the fund will be informed by the outcomes of the reviews, consultation with the South Australian and Victorian Governments and advice from the review panels.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has also announced that as part of the initiative, he will develop a National Industry Investment and Competiveness Agenda and chair a taskforce looking into:

  • Economy wide measures to boost the competitiveness of Australian manufacturing and lower the costs of doing business, such as options to reduce the costs of energy and regulation on Australian businesses;
  • Options to encourage innovation, including employee share schemes, support for research and development and commercialising good ideas;
  • Options to accelerate the development of productivity enhancing infrastructure;
  • Options to encourage the growth of small to medium businesses; and
  • Economy-wide incentive mechanisms to boost investment in Australia.

For more information including the scope of the government’s reviews and the key areas for the government’s new investment and competitiveness taskforce, click here.