The Prime Minister’s flagship $15 billion industry policy, the National Reconstruction Fund, is in disarray as the government fails to provide a coherent plan for Australian manufacturers facing increasing rates of insolvency.

On Monday, it was reported that the CEO of the National Reconstruction Fund Corporation (NRFC), Ivan Power, said the $15 billion Fund was not “in the business of picking winners”.

But 48 hours later, Mr Power’s comments were directly contradicted by the Chair of the NRFC, Martjin Wilder, when he said, “of course we should be picking winners”.

Is it any wonder the much-hyped Fund, legislated more than one year ago, still hasn’t spent a single cent in support of Australian manufacturing?

Earlier this week, the public then learned of a remarkable revelation – since the Prime Minister’s so-called ‘Future Made in Australia’ announcement, the NRFC CEO had not “heard from the Government”.

The CEO of the NRF says ‘no’ to picking winners, the Chair of the NRF says ‘yes’ to picking winners and the Government isn’t saying anything at all – all whilst Australian manufacturers continue to struggle with no support in sight from the Albanese Government.

It can also be revealed that the Albanese Government’s own Industry Innovation and Science Australia provided a report to Industry Minister Ed Husic in September last year, which claimed that many manufacturers within the government’s hand-picked priority areas are “businesses that operate in industries that are not internationally competitive and face significant import competition”.

This government report casts significant doubt on the Prime Minister’s claim that his policies promote the idea of a ‘new competition’.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Industry, Sussan Ley said that whilst this worsening manufacturing crisis was being made in Canberra, the solution certainly wasn’t.

“The Prime Minister has created a vacuum in industry policy leadership, with Productivity Commissioners past and present criticising his approach.

“Australian businesses shutting up shop in record numbers managed to survive the pandemic and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, but have clearly been unable to survive the Albanese Labor Government.

“Anthony Albanese and Ed Husic have created chaos for Australian manufacturers, who instead of receiving the help they need from the Government, are getting chaos and dysfunction.

“The only things manufacturers are getting from Labor are promises without plans and lots of spin with no spend.”

On Australia’s industry landscape …
External administrations are at record highs.
Manufacturing insolvencies have tripled under Labor.
Industry is expecting anaemic growth rates at, or near, their lowest levels in a decade.
Industry is reporting a decline in new orders, at the largest rate since the GFC.
Creditor Watch reports invoice defaults at record highs.
On the National Reconstruction Fund …
The NRF has so far failed to spend a single dollar on a single project.
The PM lied about the NRF being “open for business” when it wasn’t.
The NRF had no formal processes until the Coalition forced Labor to adopt them
The NRFC Board has faced media scrutiny, following the release of documents under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, with the NRFC providing no explanation as to why multiple meetings have been held on the same days, multiple times.
Clouds remain over the haphazard appointment of senior union official Glenn Thompson to the NRFC especially in the absence of a conflict declared by the shareholder Minister, Ed Husic.