La­bor puts up $1b fac­tory fund

The West Australian - - NEWS - Nick Evans

“It will fa­cil­i­tate in­vest­ment in ... man­u­fac­tur­ing, en­gi­neer­ing and de­sign.”

Fed­eral Op­po­si­tion Leader Bill Shorten says he will pump $1 bil­lion into Aus­tralian man­u­fac­tur­ers to kick-start lo­cal in­dus­try, promis­ing cheap loans for busi­ness in­no­va­tion if La­bor wins govern­ment at the next elec­tion.

Mr Shorten will to­day com­mit La­bor to es­tab­lish­ing a $1 bil­lion Man­u­fac­tur­ing Fu­ture Fund, say­ing it will back lo­cal com­pa­nies strug­gling to win sup­port from bankers.

It is the sec­ond ma­jor cash com­mit­ment made by Mr Shorten in as many days, af­ter promis­ing $700 mil­lion for an El­len­brook rail line yes­ter­day, in an­other sign the La­bor leader has one eye on the chance Op­po­si­tion Leader that Prime Min­is­ter Malcolm Turn­bull will call an early elec­tion next year.

South Aus­tralian seats are in play at the next elec­tion, as well as a swathe of Lib­er­al­held WA elec­torates.

Mr Shorten will make the man­u­fac­tur­ing an­nounce­ment in Ade­laide, which faces the loss of man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs as the car in­dus­try closes.

Mod­elled on the Clean En­ergy Fi­nance Cor­po­ra­tion— for­mer prime min­is­ter Ju­lia Gil­lard’s so-called “green bank” — the fund would of­fer con­ces­sional loans, eq­uity in­jec­tions, or un­der­write bank debt for man­u­fac­tur­ing busi­nesses want­ing to ex­pand or upgrade equip­ment.

Mr Shorten said the aim of the fund was not to re­place bank debt or other sources of fi­nance but act as a co-in­vestor in man­u­fac­tur­ers strug­gling to win the back­ing of banks.

“It will fa­cil­i­tate in­vest­ment in ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing, en­gi­neer­ing and de­sign by part­ner­ing with pri­vate fi­nance to re­duce the per­ceived risk in in­no­va­tive projects,” Mr Shorten will say.

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