Labor pitches $15 billion for reconstruction

April 15, 2021 BY

Ford’s Geelong stamping plant closed in September 2016. Photo: MARCUS WONG

FEDERAL Labor will introduce a $15 billion fund for manufacturing and infrastructure if it wins the next election, and Labor’s local MPs say it will create jobs and “turbocharge” manufacturers in the region.

The National Reconstruction Fund will allocate $15 billion to partner with the private sector, including superannuation funds, to support investments which demonstrate they will grow the economy and increase employment.

The fund will be legislated and be governed by an independent board using the same model as the Clean Energy Finance Corporation established by the previous Labor government.

The $15 billion of investment will come from a combination of loans, equity, co-investment and guarantees.

The fund will be administered on the basis that it will achieve a return to cover borrowing costs, with an expected positive underlying cash impact.

Labor has suggested the fund could be used to commercialise Australia’s capacity in science and innovation, boost the development of medical devices and pharmaceuticals, and revive the nation’s capability to make cars, trains and ships.

Corangamite Labor federal member Libby Coker said the fund would be a “major win” for Geelong, the Surf Coast and the Bellarine.

“Our region knows all too well the pain of having manufacturing jobs being ripped away,” Ms Coker said.

“It was only five years ago that Ford’s Geelong factory shut its doors for good.

“The Coalition Government goaded the industry to leave Australia then pretended to be shocked when it shut up shop.

“This meant we lost our most complex high-tech manufacturing and the thousands of jobs that went with it.

“Unlike the Coalition, Labor actually believes that Australian workers can build cars, ships, and trains.”

Ms Coker said she would be hosting a series of roundtable discussions with manufacturers to discuss the potential of the Geelong region and was keen to hear from industries if they were interested in bringing manufacturing jobs to the region.

Corio Labor federal MP and shadow minister for national reconstruction Richard Marles said the fund would build on Labor’s Future Made in Australia agenda to invest in Australia and Australian workers.

“We need to put ourselves on the path of becoming the most modern country in the world,” Mr Marles said.

Labor’s proposal has similarities to the National Economic Reconstruction Plan launched by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) in July last year.

The ACTU plan puts forward five proposals, including $30 billion of new spending per year on public capital projects such as funding for transportation, community and public housing, cultural and public service facilities, forest and fire management investments to better prepare for future fire seasons, and renewable energy assets and efficiency upgrades.

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