Labor promises a $1 billion manufacturing 'future fund' if elected

Bill Shorten Photo: Cole Bennetts / Getty Images

Bill Shorten’s Labor opposition says it will create $1 billion “future fund” for Australian manufacturing firms if it wins the next election.

Labor says its Australian Manufacturing Future Fund will offer equity, concessional loans and guarantees to businesses that find it difficult to obtain private sources of finance in a model based on the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

The opposition wants the fund’s board to focus on “transformative investments in the automotive manufacturing and food manufacturing sectors” citing auto component manufacturers who want to re-tool or diversify into other industries and food manufacturers investing in new equipment for Asian export markets as examples of suitable projects.

“There is currently a finance gap for innovative small and medium enterprises in the manufacturing sector,” opposition leader Bill Shorten said.

“Labor wants Australia to be a successful advanced manufacturing nation, but we recognise that firms need assistance to modernise and move into high-value production to make them globally competitive.”

He sees the fund as investing in advanced manufacturing, engineering and design by partnering with private finance to reduce the perceived risk in innovative projects.

The announcement comes a week before Holden closes its Elizabeth plant in South Australia, bringing the curtain down on Australia’s car manufacturing industry following the shutdown of Toyota’s Melbourne plant earlier this month and Ford’s departure last year.

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