Federal Labor set to unveil plan to boost Australian-made spend if elected

Anthony Albanese will use a speech at the NSW Labor conference to promise more opportunities for Australian businesses to receive government contracts.

Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese addresses media during a press conference in Sydney.

Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese says if elected a Labor government would pass laws ensuring the government procured more Australian-made goods. Source: AAP

Small and medium businesses would get greater chance to bid for lucrative federal government contracts under a Labor plan to spend more taxpayer dollars locally.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese will use Saturday's NSW Labor conference to unveil his "buy Australian plan".

A Labor government would pass laws locking the government in to using more Australian-made goods, products and materials in Commonwealth contracts.

A new Future Made in Australia Office would promote government purchasing opportunities to small businesses, Indigenous enterprises and regional communities.

The federal government has spent almost $190 billion on procurement over the past three financial years.

In 2019/20, just a quarter of the almost $54 billion worth of contracts were awarded to small and medium-sized enterprises.

Labor has pledged to work with state, territory and local governments to break up larger infrastructure contracts to allow smaller Australian-owned companies to bid.

Between 2015 and 2020, 95 per cent of the top-20 infrastructure projects worth more than $500 million were delivered by foreign-owned companies.

"Labor will provide opportunities for mid and small tier Australian companies to participate in the infrastructure pipeline helping to build and strengthen our sovereign capability," Mr Albanese will tell the conference.

"This will be done by packaging tenders where appropriate into multiple packages that allow smaller companies to bid for them."

Under Labor's plan, government agencies would be able to directly engage with small and medium-sized businesses for contracts of up to $500,000 rather than the current $200,000 threshold.

Where possible, at least four per cent of research and development in government-funded agencies worth more than $50 million would be sourced locally from small businesses.

A secure Australian jobs code would ensure the government spends money with companies that treat workers fairly and have environmentally sustainable outcomes.

Firms would also have stronger requirements to declare whether they were using offshore tax havens.

Guidelines will be developed to boost the use of Australian-made uniforms, merchandise, paper and boxes.

Mr Albanese promises Labor will leverage government investments for emissions reduction and maximise local content on defence projects.

The $20 billion provided through partnership arrangements with states and territories would also have to be consistent with the new procurement guidelines.

"Together these plans will ensure that Australia's capacity to manufacture essential goods in areas including health, energy, infrastructure, defence and space and communications is increased and that we are more resilient," the opposition leader will say.

NSW Labor leader Chris Minns will also address the conference which is being held online because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Health Services Union last month split from the right faction in protest over Labor senator Kristina Keneally being parachuted into a safe federal seat of Fowler.

HSU secretary Gerard Hayes' brother Chris is the retiring MP and backed local lawyer Tu Le to replace him.

The split means the historically dominant right faction's numbers are diminished, putting the left within reach of winning votes.


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Published 9 October 2021 at 11:38am, updated 9 October 2021 at 12:02pm
Source: AAP - SBS

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