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The Future Made in Australia Act: Aussie-style ‘homeland economics’ or something else?

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has officially launched his Future Made in Australia Act, drawing inspiration from the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act. But is this a case of Australian-style “homeland economics” or a politically motivated policy push that is light on detail and heavy on rhetoric?

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has officially launched his Future Made in Australia Act, drawing inspiration from the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act. But is this a case of Australian-style “homeland economics” or a politically motivated policy push that is light on detail and heavy on rhetoric?

For successive generations of Australians, the economic success and growth of the national economy have been the gifts that keep on giving, with the streets seemingly paved with gold.

Skyrocketing resources and agricultural prices, backed by our “services” economy and the robust, voracious appetite for Australian real estate has seen an explosion in the individual or per capita wealth of Australians, or at least that is what was thought and what we were told.


As a result, over the past 30 years of seemingly unstoppable economic growth, Australia, like many nations across the West, effectively waived goodbye to their economic and industrial complexity, depth and diversity, in a wave of unbridled economic liberalisation that gave rise to the era of free trade and hyper-globalisation.

Not even the Asian Financial Crisis of the mid-1990s or the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, which laid the United States and Europe low, could slow the inevitable march of growth that had come to characterise the Australian economy.

However, none could escape the economic turmoil that was wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic and the unrestricted quantitative easing unleashed by governments around the world, Australia included.

Now our chickens have come home to roost as the world continues to devolve into great power competition characterised by economic, political, and strategic tensions, once again casting their shadow over Europe, the Middle East and now, much closer to home in the Indo-Pacific.

Australia, in particular, finds itself at the epicentre of this new great game, as the Indo-Pacific has rapidly become the next major battleground for the world’s established and emerging great powers, many with their own designs for the region that conflict with Australia’s own national interests and security.

Against this backdrop, in the Australian context, we have seen the transformation, although some would strongly argue devolution of the national economy from a diverse, manufacturing-focused, “industrialised” economy to a mining, resources, services and agriculture-dominated economy, with an ever-declining level of complexity.

In response, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has officially launched his push to reform and reinvigorate Australia’s economy and industrial base through the introduction of the Future Made in Australia Act, seeking to reverse the industrial decline of the nation.

Lofty rhetoric, high on ambition, a little light on the detail

At the core of the Prime Minister’s speech is a focus on the future and as became a frequent catchphrase on the election campaign of 2022, the “jobs of the future”, with the Prime Minister saying, “Because for Australia to seize the opportunities of the next decade, for our nation to generate the energy, skills, jobs, technology and investment that will power our future prosperity.”

As part of this push, the Prime Minister is seeking to capitalise on the vast resource and mineral wealth of the nation, through the development of globally competitive, value-add industries that leverage the nation’s natural competitive advantages to reinvigorate the nation’s industrial base.

Detailing the importance of this future-oriented strategy and the emphasis on being bold, the Prime Minister said, “In all this, we need to aim high, be bold and build big to match the size of the opportunity in front of us. And we have to get cracking. We have unlimited potential.

“But we do not have unlimited time. If we don’t seize this moment, it will pass. If we don’t take this chance, we won’t get another. If we don’t act to shape the future, the future will shape us,” the Prime Minister told the audience at the Queensland Press Club.

Don’t worry if it all sounds a little vague, you’re not the only one.

Drawing inspiration from abroad, the Prime Minister has sought to link the Future Made in Australia Act to the controversial Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act to target government involvement and support in the economic reform and transformation the nation needs.

In drawing inspiration from the Inflation Reduction Act, the Prime Minister is seeking to focus on a number of sectors in the national economy, through targeted investments and strategies in critical infrastructure, education and training, research and development, small business support and of course, the development of clean and renewable energy, advanced manufacturing, among others.

Detailing this, the Prime Minister explained, “This new wave demands a new approach – and since the last election, our government has been laying the foundations to deliver it:

  • Embracing clean energy.
  • Securing a landmark National Skills Agreement.
  • Creating the National Reconstruction Fund.
  • Establishing the Net Zero Economy Authority.
  • Putting science together with industry under Ed Husic, to make sure we commercialise the opportunities arising from Australian innovation.”

But again, there is still little in the way of detail.

Enabling this, the Prime Minister sketches out a more direct, engaged role for government in this transition, with him calling on governments to be “strategic, more sophisticated and a more constructive contributor” as the plan is rolled out.

Sharper elbows and pulling no punches as we strengthen national interest

In making this call-out, Albanese actively calls for the government to have “sharper elbows” and be more direct and transactional in its approach to pursuing the national interest, particularly in an era of great power competition.

“We need to be willing to break with old orthodoxies and pull new levers to advance the national interest. We have to think differently about what government can – and must – do to work alongside the private sector to grow the economy.

“Combining market tools with government action – to create wealth and create opportunity. We need to take a fresh look at how government can support small business and start-ups and service industries to diversify our economy and our trade. Not just playing to our traditional strengths with our traditional partners but offering new products and services to new markets.

“We need this change in thinking and approach, because the global economic circumstances are changing in ways far more profound than the consequences of the pandemic or conflict alone,” the Prime Minister explained.

But the lack of detail and certain policy focuses leave more questions than they answer at a time when we need to be far more proactive.

Final thoughts

For generations of Australians in the early to middle stages of their careers, at a time that they should be settling down and starting families, our system is unavoidably stacked against them.

Is it any wonder alternative methods of political engagement, policy making, and economics are attractive to people when they are promised the world for little to no effort?

At the same time, we have seen a corresponding rise of social, cultural dislocation and disconnection coupled with individual aimlessness and the resulting impact on personal identity and mental health among younger Australians.

By helping to provide a rallying call – creating a compelling narrative full of excitement, opportunity, and purpose – policymakers can help reverse the trend of stagnation and decline, allowing Australians to turn the tide and build a resilient and competitive nation for this era of renewed competition between autarchy and democracy.

Expanding and enhancing the opportunities available to Australians while building critical economic resilience, and as a result, deterrence to economic coercion, should be the core focus of the government because only when our economy is strong can we ensure that we can deter aggression towards the nation or our interests.

This also requires a greater degree of transparency and a culture of collaboration between the nation’s strategic policymakers, elected officials, and the constituents they represent and serve – equally, this approach will need to entice the Australian public to once again invest in and believe in the future direction of the nation.

Additionally, Australia will need to have an honest conversation about how we view ourselves and what our own ambitions are. Is it reasonable for Australia to position itself as a “middle” or “regional” power in this rapidly evolving geopolitical environment? Equally, if we are going to brand ourselves as such, shouldn’t we aim for the top tier to ensure we get the best deal for ourselves and our future generations?

If we are going to emerge as a prosperous, secure, and free nation in the new era of great power competition, it is clear we will need to break the shackles of short-termism and begin to think far more long term, to the benefit of current and future generations of Australians.

Get involved with the discussion and let us know your thoughts on Australia’s future role and position in the Indo-Pacific region and what you would like to see from Australia’s political leaders in terms of partisan and bipartisan agenda setting in the comments section below, or get in touch at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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