Parliament Updates

Zali Steggall speaks of importance of National Reconstruction Fund supporting emerging technologies

9 March 2023


It is incredibly important that this National Reconstruction Fund Corporation Bill 2022 pass, and I commend the member for Melbourne for this amendment. And I commend the government for its negotiations and engagement with this process. It's incredibly important that the National Reconstruction Fund be used to support emerging technologies and key manufacturing sectors—not to prop up mature technologies, such as fossil fuel extraction or infrastructure related to that, like coal and gas, or logging native forests. These are all mature technologies and if they're not standing up on their own now then they have passed their time.

What's important for Australia's future prosperity is a road map on how we're going to grow our wealth. Where is the world going for export industries? It is not nuclear, and it is not coal and gas. When it comes an export industry that we must engage with, it's going to be green hydrogen. We know that the Inflation Reduction Act in the US is creating a race to investment, so it's going to be key for Australia's future prosperity that we also get into that race. The EU has now responded to the US in that respect, and so it's incredibly important that this fund—through this amendment—makes it clear that we're focusing on the future and on emerging technologies.

It will be incredibly important for the minister, the corporation and the commission to ensure that the funding looks to support projects where proof of concept has been established, they're ready to scale and will deliver. I've had discussions with the minister about the importance of also looking to small and medium businesses to capture innovation. I would like to ask, though, about the inclusion of the word 'directly' in this amendment. I just want to understand it clearly. Obviously, there's a lot of infrastructure that may well be converted to green hydrogen use, and that's where our ultimate export opportunity is. So I would ask for clarification from the minister as to how he sees this amendment and the reconstruction fund bill working towards enabling those new technologies to prosper