Senate debates

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Questions without Notice

National Reconstruction Fund

2:26 pm

Photo of Murray WattMurray Watt (Queensland, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) Share this | Hansard source

Thank you, Senator Tyrrell. As I understand it, you are yet to finalise your position in relation to the National Reconstruction Fund, so I hope that the information I provide you can convince you that this is something worth getting behind. From the little I know about you—we haven't spent a lot of time together—I know that you're a big supporter of manufacturing, particularly in your home state of Tasmania, and the National Reconstruction Fund will be a key way to take manufacturing in that great state forward. I know Senator Urquhart has a lot of history in Tasmanian manufacturing. I'm sure, Senator Tyrrell, you will support that as well when we come down to it.

The short answer to your question, Senator Tyrrell, is that the National Reconstruction Fund is going to be very focused on manufacturing. A good example of that in the renewable space might be a smelter, whether it be in Bell Bay or anywhere else in Tasmania, or another manufacturing facility that might wish to change its energy sources to become more reliant on renewable energy as a way of reducing their energy costs. That is the type of thing for which we would expect a company would be able to apply to the National Reconstruction Fund for co-investment. If the right rate of return is available, then the NRF would be able to support that.

It's a bit different to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, I guess, because that is much more focused on funding new innovation in the renewable energy space. It's around the production of renewable energy and how we can do that through new and innovative means. The National Reconstruction Fund is much more focused on manufacturing facilities, how to upgrade them, how to bring more value adding and how to reduce their energy costs; whereas the CEFC is more about how we can develop more renewable energy which could then be used to supply manufacturing facilities. As I say, Senator Tyrrell, we think it will make a massive difference to manufacturing in our country and in your state of Tasmania, so I do hope that when it comes time for the vote you will support us.


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