Analysis and Commentary

Question? Is the industry department talking to the industry minister?

Analysis and Commentary

By Peter Roberts

Is the industry department talking to the industry minister?

I ask this question because my article last week on options for evolving Australia’s industry growth centres failed to mention an important point.

Former industry minister Karen Andrews had been widely canvassing options, including making the centres more like UK Catapult centres, for some months, with industry policy experts.

New minister Christian Porter will likely continue the process as $800 million from the government’s manufacturing modernisation initiative has been budgeted and earmarked for such things as the future of industry centres.

It is just that I have been reminded that the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources commissioned some time ago a review of the industry growth centres from consultants ACIL Allen.

You would think that such a report was an important piece of intelligence that should be quickly conveyed to the minister’s office so Andrews and Porter were informed of all the facts when making this important decision.

But it seems the department does not think that way.

I understand the department received the report in the fourth quarter of 2020 and never forwarded it to Karen Andrews. Nor has it forwarded it to Christian Porter.

So I sent some questions to the department.

A spokesperson said: “The department has received the final version of the initial impact evaluation of the Industry Growth Centres Initiative.

“The Minister will be briefed on the findings in due course.”

However, the spokesperson did not respond to a question asking for confirmation when the report had been received.

It is fair to ask what does ‘due course’ mean.

And it is fair to ponder why the department has sat on the ACIL Allen report for perhaps six months.

Is it because ACIL Allen report recommends something not in accord with the department’s own views?

In any case, minister Porter’s office once it has settled in might want to give the department a call and ask for a copy of the report.

Let’s hope the answer isn’t ‘Yes, Minister’.

Picture: Christian Porter

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