Ai Group’s Industry Meets Canberra – Parliament House


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It’s great to be with you this morning.

Now I’m conscious of the fact we’re going straight from this speech into a Q & A, which I’m sure we will all find more valuable, so I plan to keep this as tight as possible.

A defining trait of our modern world is its increasing complexity, with several global forces competing to shape the world economy.

As industry leaders, you have deep insights into how this ever-changing and complex environment impacts on business in Australia.

As a government, I want you to know we understand that industry makes the economy. In fact, industry IS THE ECONOMY.

That is why growing Australian industry—both our core and emerging industries—is our highest priority.

Everything else hangs on it—jobs for our people, our living standards, our wellbeing, our prosperity.

Industry is key to building on Australia’s world record of 28 consecutive years of economic growth.

Industry is key to realising our commitment to deliver 1.25 million new jobs over the next five years.

It’s a commitment we intend to carry through by creating a policy environment that supports Australian businesses to thrive, that drives economic growth and creates new jobs.

A strong Australian manufacturing industry is important for achieving this goal.

It keeps our economy strong and diversified.

One of things I’ve been shouting from the rafters, including in Parliament this week, is that Australia will always be a manufacturing nation.

Australian manufacturing has a bright future, but there’s one undeniable reality:

That future lies in embracing new technology.

It lies in creating high-value added products and services for the global marketplace, enabled by innovation.

There are significant opportunities for growth in manufacturing; growth that will create more jobs.

I’m strongly committed to engaging with the sector, so we can work together to harness those opportunities.

As most of you would know, I’ve recently hosted manufacturing round tables here at Parliament House, including one yesterday.

I was encouraged by the interest shown by leaders from our key stakeholder peak industry groups, businesses, research organisations and universities.

That mix was very deliberate and highlights something I’m keen to drive as Minister.

I want our research organisations engaging with our businesses – particularly small and medium sized ones – to help them innovate and grow.

The roundtables also heard ideas that can help us seize the opportunities and priorities to build our competitive advantage and help us thrive in global markets.

We’ve looked at how we can secure the future of our industries in a time of technological disruption.

How we can transform our core industries and develop our emerging ones.

And how we can improve the take-up of technology, develop the skills of our workforce, increase our export footprints and enhance productivity.

One way the Government is supporting business to embrace technology is through our Manufacturing Modernisation Fund, which I launched just last week.

And I thank AI Group for your words of support welcoming its launch.

The $160 million fund is part of the Morrison Government plan to create an environment that spurs economic growth.

The fund will support manufacturers to become more competitive and create new jobs.

It will help businesses scale up, invest in new technologies and develop new high-value products.

The grants will range from $50,000 to $1 million.

The Government will contribute $50 million, while at least $110 million will come from industry.

And we’re proud of that shared model because it means industry and these businesses are still investing in themselves with support from Government.As we like to say … a hand UP not a hand OUT.

We expect the fund to help around 350 businesses over the course of its life.

The Manufacturing Modernisation Fund builds on the Government’s Advanced Manufacturing Fund.

Worth $100 million, that fund is already supporting advanced manufacturing techniques, allowing business to build long-term sustainable growth.

We’re on this journey together—to transform Australian industry in this technological age.

I applaud Ai Group for your leadership in hosting the Industry 4.0 Advanced Manufacturing Forum.

You are making an important contribution to driving the digital transformation of Australian industry.

We need Australian industry, both high-tech and traditional, to embrace innovation to remain competitive. It’s an essential part of what I’ve been saying about competing on value not on cost.

Innovation is so important to our Government’s economic plan.

It provides opportunities for industry to increase productivity and create high-paying jobs.

We will continue to provide an enabling environment for Australian businesses to innovate.

The R&D Tax Incentive remains the largest government investment in Australia’s innovation system.

It is designed to encourage businesses to undertake additional R&D beyond what they would have done in the absence of the program.

R&D that is likely to deliver positive spill-over benefits to the economy.

Our Government’s Entrepreneurs’ Programme also continues to play a pivotal role in supporting business to be competitive and increase productivity.

It is helping build capability development and innovation right at the source.

It is connecting SMEs with the resources and networks they need to innovate, compete and grow.

Ladies and gentlemen, the task of building and sustaining a strong economy is a collective enterprise.

It can’t all be on Government, but as I said it is on Government to get the settings right.

I’m committed to listening to you to help me and the Government deliver that.

Thank you.