Analysis and Commentary

Brace yourself to be trickle fed grant awards right up to the election

Analysis and Commentary

By Peter Roberts

The announcement of $113 million of federal support for plant protein factories and another $20 million for satellite manufacturing in South Australia is all well and good.

But it means the process for assessing the Modern Manufacturing Initiative Round 1 applications is complete.

It is shameful that the federal government looks like it going to treat MMI announcements as if it is their personal money to dispense.

The latest announcements were obviously timed for the SA election due on March 19 where the Liberal state government is fighting for its survival.

Both sides talk about getting industry, academia and government to work together through these schemes but then they make announcements to suit political timetables.

Literally billions of dollars of funds are reserved by businesses around the country (or from investors waiting to make the investment into Australia) awaiting the results – remember for every Commonwealth dollar in Round 1, the Government is demanding at least $2 of co-investment.

By holding up announcements to suit their political ends, they are actually introducing a great deal of uncertainty in Australian manufacturing investment.

The opposition’s Tanya Plibersek has undertaken to decouple Australian Research Council funding announcements and decisions from politics.

It would be brilliant if either side did the same thing for industry grants.

Government grant schemes need to be bigger than individual governments.

They should be used to maximise the benefit to the nation, not to shore up one side’s vote.

Picture: Thomas Food International

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