Promises to double Government R&D funding and increase support for innovation in the manufacturing sector are two possible outcomes of a manufacturing business roundtable being conducted by Kevin Rudd and key Labor shadow ministers in Canberra today.
Labor’s proposals for a more active government role in the manufacturing sector are also likely to be a key topic for discussion at the roundtable, to be chaired by former Australian Industry Group head Bob Herbert and involving participants that include 45 leading business figures and representatives, unionists and academics.
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Labor has argued that a more interventionist government role is required to improve productivity in Australia, but we have yet to see much of the crucial policy detail behind this pledge.
“There is a broad consensus that a focus on innovation is critical to the survival of manufacturing in Australia,” Labor Industry, Innovation, Science and Research spokesman Senator Kim Carr told The Age. “Government’s have a role in creating an environment in which industries can make the most of opportunities that exist.”
Manufacturing related policy commitments Labor has already made include:
- A new all-in-one government department combining industry, innovation, science and research.
- An annual investment of $25 million a year over four years to create a national network of offices to help manufacturers access the latest research and development and cut through government red-tape.
- A commitment to bring forward reviews of the viability of government support programs for the automotive and textile, clothing and footwear sectors.
- Set up “industry innovation councils” to facilitate contact between researchers, business and policy decision makers.
- Changes to beneficial ownership rules that would allow companies to claim concessions for R&D performed in Australia, even if the intellectual property developed is held by an overseas parent company.
A renewed focus on government procurement policies could also form part of Labor’s industry policy, The Age reports. Earlier this year Rudd announced that Labor would streamline procurement guidelines to make it easier for SMEs to participate in tenders for government work.