The government’s $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund is now a thing

- March 29, 2023 2 MIN READ
Michelle Simmons, Ed Husic
Science and innovation minister Ed Husic with Prof Michelle Simmons, CEO of Silicon Quantum Computing.

The Albanese government’s plan for a $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund to invest in technology, science and manufacturing became a reality today after the Senate passed the legislation last night, before the House of Representatives gave final approval at lunchtime today.

Industry and science minister Ed Husic said passing the legislation delivers on a major Labor election commitment that paves the way for Australia ramp up high-value manufacturing and jobs.

“The Government’s $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund (NRF) is one of the largest peacetime investments in Australian manufacturing capability,” he said.

“The most successful modern economies are built on strong, advanced manufacturing capability. The NRF will help deliver this for Australia. We want Australia to be a country that makes things, a nation that has faith in its know-how and ability to get the job done.”

The way the fund will function is modelled on the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which has invested in a range of climate tech startups.

The NRF will also be administered by an independent board that makes independent investment decisions. They are guided by even priority areas that include next-generation materials development, value-adding and advanced manufacturing, from clean energy and mining science to medtech and agriculture and food.

Science & Technology Australia CEO Misha Schubert said the fund is a powerful new vehicle to “spur and scale” the nation’s economic development and diversification.

“It will help to deepen Australia’s scientific and technological innovation – which is key to strengthening our national prosperity, creating jobs and securing new income streams,” she said

“This significantly boosts Australia’s pool of investment capital for next-generation materials development, value-adding and advanced manufacturing – the foundations of a strong, modern economy. This will help turbo-charge sovereign capability and economic complexity.”

Rebecca Iwanuscha, Innovation Incentives Partner at Grant Thornton, said the fund “is a step in the right direction to grow Australia’s innovation agenda” that signals the importance of innovation and R&D.

She said that businesses that until now may have not qualified for direct grant funding could now be able to claim further tax concessions in relation to R&D and manufacturing, particularly in the areas of renewable energy, medical science, resources, agriculture, defence, technology and transport.

“The NRF is set to support Australian capability and emerging technologies across seven keys areas via loans, guarantees and equities, which we know will be a welcomed initiative,” Iwanuscha said.

“I am also looking forward to the May Federal Budget where I hope the Government will expand on their plans to continue to support Australian business spend on innovation.”

More on the National Reconstruction Fund is available on the the Dept of Industry, Science and Resources website.