Labor Opposition Pushes For A Smarter Australia In Budget Reply

Every year after the Government has handed down its Budget, the Opposition is given a right of response in the Chamber. In reply to a Coalition budget full of small business incentives and few mentions of smart economy jobs, the Labor Opposition has fired back with a plan for a smarter Australian economy within 10 years.

Image: Darrian Traynor/Getty

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten gave a speech to the Chamber last night which blasted the Government for another “unfair” budget.

Shorten used his speech to call for an economic “circuit-breaker” for nation building, while pushing for smarter jobs and in turn, a smarter Australia.

“We have a plan to build a new engine for prosperity, and turbocharge it with science, skills, infrastructure and education,” Shorten said.

Shorten said that three per cent of Australia’s gross domestic product of around $1.56 trillion should be dedicated to research and development by “the end of the next decade”. That would mean almost $47 billion poured into building a smarter nation.

“I want more Australians making breakthroughs and adapting technology here in Australia,” he said.

The Labor leader added that the party would push for a $500 million Smart Investment Fund to back Aussie start-ups. It’s on the hunt for new online businesses like Seek, and will seek to “partner with venture capitalists and fund managers to invest in early stage and high potential companies,” Shorten said.

Here’s the full section on creating smarter jobs from Opposition Leader Bill Shorten:

Labor will back small business to support jobs today and we have a plan for jobs tomorrow.

We have a plan to build a new engine for prosperity – and turbocharge it with science, skills, infrastructure and education.

Like so many of my Labor team, I’ve spent my adult life standing up for fairness – in the workplace, in the community and in this Parliament.

In twenty years of representing working people, I’ve been there in good times and hard times.

When economic change starts to bite, Australians don’t reach for a hand out and they don’t want charity.

But they do expect hope, a sense of confidence.

Above all, Australians want to know where the new jobs are coming from, what will their kids will do for a living, what will the jobs of the next generation will be.

Nothing matters more to Labor than securing the jobs of the future.

Jobs that help Australians aim high, raise families and lift their standard of living.

And the new jobs of the future require new skills.

Designing skills, coding skills – building, refining, adapting and servicing the machines and supply chains of a new age.

Three out of every four of the fastest growing occupations in Australia will require skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Not just researchers and programmers but technicians, electricians, plumbers and machine mechanics.

Yet right now, in our schools, TAFES and universities, there not enough people are acquiring these skills.

Australia must get smarter – or we will get poorer.

I believe Australia can be the science, start-up and technology capital of our region: attracting the best minds, supporting great institutions and encouraging home our great expats.

We should aspire, together: universities, industry, the people and the Parliament to devote 3 per cent of our GDP to research and development by the end of the next decade.

I want more Australians making breakthroughs and adapting technology here in Australia.

And more Australian businesses sharing in the benefits of that technology: in our warehouses, in our factories, in our farms and design firms.

Together, let us harness the power of science, technology, engineering and mathematics to prepare for the future.

A future of knowledge and service industries and advanced manufacturing, a nation of ideas and a country that makes things here.

Our future prosperity depends on harnessing Australian ideas and defining a new global market for world-leading products.

I want ideas born here, to grow up here and create jobs here.

25 years ago, if you were looking for work you purchased a newspaper.

Today, all around the world, millions of people search online.

The world’s largest online job ads company,, was created in Australia with the support of the Australian Government

A $2.5 million investment in 1998, helped grow what is now a $5 billion company, employing over 500 Australians.

Labor will create a new, $500 million, Smart Investment Fund, to back-in great Australian ideas like this.

Our Smart Investment Fund, will partner with venture capitalists and fund managers to invest in early stage and high potential companies.

Our model has a definite, proven record of success both here and abroad.

Every global company begins as a local one, every big business starts out small.

And Labor will work with the banks and finance industry to establish a partial guarantee scheme, StartUp Finance, to help more Australians convert their great ideas into good businesses.

We will enable entrepreneurs to access the capital they need to start and grow their enterprises.

So many of our competitors for the jobs of the future already have a scheme of this kind in place: the UK, the US, France and Germany and Hong Kong is a leader in our region.

We understand, in the new economy, it’s these businesses that will drive growth and create jobs – and it’s our responsibility to support our next generation of designers, refiners, manufacturers and creators.

Read the full speech here.

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