Labor pledge to back critical technologies

·1-min read

Artificial intelligence, robotics, software development and quantum computing will get federal backing under a new fund if Labor wins government.

As the era of cheap capital comes to an end, Labor is proposing a national co-investment fund, working with superannuation and venture capital groups to back Australia's leading tech thinkers and their firms.

The $1 billion Critical Technologies Fund, announced on Friday, would provide loans, equity and guarantees for businesses in critical technologies.

Labor industry and innovation spokesman Ed Husic said the fund would end the "brain drain that is sapping our country of vital talent".

The tech funding will be a slice of Labor's post-pandemic $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund and comes with a commitment to work with industry to deliver 1.2 million tech jobs by 2030.

The Tech Council of Australia has welcomed the commitment, saying it would enable the sector to capitalise on a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make Australia a global tech powerhouse.

Tech Council CEO Kate Pounder said through companies like Atlassian, Canva, Afterpay, Wisetech and Airwallex, Australia had gained an important new industrial strength in its economy.

"Now we need to do the same for the next generation of strategic tech industries," she said.

The fund follows Labor's pledge on Thursday of a $100 million partnership with the Queensland government to kickstart battery manufacturing in Australia.

The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies said the Australian Made Battery Plan is a strong show of support for Australia's resources and emerging downstream manufacturing capacity.

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