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The Federal Budget, released last week, brought forth a number of new programs and funds to accelerate the transition to clean energy technology, as well as confirming expenditures on commitments made pre-election. A $1.9bn Powering the Regions Fund will support industry decarbonisation and development of new clean energy. A new Driving the Nation Fund earmarks $275m over six years to invest in electric and hydrogen vehicle infrastructure for cheaper and cleaner transport. The fund will work in association with ARENA to deliver charging infrastructure for regional Australia. And there was the confirmation of the government’s flagship $20bn commitment to critical transmission infrastructure under the Rewiring the Nation plan, which will enable renewables to flood the grid.
Critical minerals – the key ingredient for delivery of decarbonisation ambition here and worldwide – received a $50.5 million boost in the form of investment in a National Critical Minerals Research and Development Hub as part of the government’s new National Critical Minerals Strategy. And the $15bn National Reconstruction Fund, confirmed in the budget, includes a commitment to expand our regional industrial base in critical minerals, so that, in the words of the Treasurer, “we can be a country that makes things again, so we can add value to the things we sell to the world, and so that every part of the country can have a stake in our Australian-made future.”
These investment commitments reflect the key themes of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s headland speech to the National Press Club in August, where he set out his policy vision after 100 days in office: “We have everything that goes into a battery. We have lithium, we have copper, we have all of those minerals that will increasingly be in demand. We should be value-adding here”. He argued for a “different approach” to our historical dig and ship economy.
As demonstrated in our previous paper, the rapid acceleration of public and private convergence around energy economy investments in North America, and the efficacy of China’s state-backed clean energy initiatives, show strategic investment by our federal and state governments is key to catalysing private capital engagement. This includes capturing our once in a century opportunity to be a global critical mineral powerhouse.
In this paper we review key Australian public financial capital initiatives, including the latest Net Zero Industry and Innovation Investment Plan introduced by the NSW government this month, and new commitments under the 2022-23 Federal Budget, and their role in accelerating the development of Australia’s critical mineral supply chain value-adding projects.
 Australian Government, Creating Jobs and Spurring Investment in New Energy Industries, 25 October 2022
 Australian Government, Reducing Emissions and Addressing Climate Change, 25 October 2022
 Australian Government, Support for Critical Minerals Breakthroughs, 21 October 2022
 InnovationAUS, ‘Value-add Here’: PM Wants New Approach to Next Resources Boom, 29 August 2022