Independent Senator Rex Patrick will present an Industry (Resilience and National Security) Bill into the next parliament if re-elected, putting into law the need to identify and support Australia’s critical industry capabilities.
The South Australian senator will outline the proposal which calls for the establishment of an Australian Industry Capability Commission at a meeting of 50 representatives from Australian industry in Adelaide today.
Senator Patrick said: “Covid-19 has shown Australia to be far too vulnerable to unplanned events such as pandemics, major catastrophes or international conflict.
“Australia can no longer take overseas supply chains for granted.
“We must be able to withstand and bounce back from international events which interfere with critical industries and their supply chains.”
Senator Patrick told @AuManufacturing that his bill would place a requirement on the government to map out and publish critical industry capabilities and then act to support those capabilities through positive policy settings, government procurement and investment.
“The requirement to do this will not be spelt out as policy, which can change or easily be ignored by officials, as we’ve seen happen over and over again.
“Rather it will be enshrined in Australian law.”
His proposed Australian Industry Capability Commission would participate in and assess tender evaluations when critical industry capabilities are involved, audit government procurements and report publicly on compliance with promised Australian industry participation commitments from successful tenderers.
His legislation would also set up a criteria for rating onshore industry.
“Being an Australian will require much more than having an ABN.
“Ownership, control where intellectual property is domiciled and whether work is actually carried out in Australia will be among the factors that will determine a company’s onshore rating.
“The Morrison government has unfortunately provided a textbook on how not to support and boost Australian manufacturing.”
Senator Patrick said the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC) established to plan a Covid economic recovery had come up with a plan for taxpayers to fund commercial gas exploration and production.
“The whole thing was a waste, unless you were a gas company shareholder.”
He contrasted this with the executive order issued by US President Joe Biden in January which said: “The United States government should, whenever possible, procure goods, products, materials, and services from sources that will help American businesses compete in strategic industries and help America’s workers thrive.”
“When I asked Finance Minister Simon Birmingham about whether Australia would be taking a similar approach he responded ‘I’m happy to take on notice any analysis which would be informed by the trade law branch of DFAT, really, in terms of the nature of the executive order, its application and its consistency with the Australia-US FTA obligations and commitments and US commitments more generally have been made’.
“It’s a very disturbing situation when Government puts trade law consideration ahead of national resilience and security.”
Since Biden’s executive order order the US has also introduced domestic content requirements and price referencing for critical domestic good in government procurements.
Picture: Senator Rex Patrick
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