Private Members' Business: Future Made in Australia

25 March 2024

Ms BYRNES (Cunningham) (11:11): The Albanese Labor government believes in a future made in Australia. We have not wasted a single second, putting in place programs and reforms that will diversify our economy, build sovereign capability and create a pipeline of well-paid and secure jobs now and into the future. It is a priority for our government to support businesses to invest, to grow and to embed innovation instead of moving offshore. We have faith in Australian ideas, Australian know-how, Australian workers, Australian scientists and Australian businesses. With all of the necessary components readily available, from skilled individuals to natural assets, we are poised to compete globally to innovate new products and position ourselves as leaders in renewable energy.

This is in full display in regions like the Illawarra. The Illawarra is known for its robust steel production and manufacturing and has been rejuvenated through significant investments and research initiatives aiming to ensure the sector's sustainability and adaptability in the face of global challenges. Renewable energy start-ups like Hysata and Sicona Battery Technologies have chosen the Illawarra as their home for these very reasons.

Hysata is one of many success stories emerging from the University of Wollongong. They started at UOW's Australian Institute for Innovative Materials. Hysata aim to manufacture the world's most effective hydrogen electrolysers in the heart of Port Kembla. Their electrolyser is currently 21 per cent more efficient than anything else on the market. 'But how?' you may ask. Electricity makes up most of the cost of green hydrogen. The more energy-efficient the electrolyser, the less electricity is wasted and the lower the cost of green hydrogen. Hysata's disruptive technology is accelerating its competitiveness in the hard-to-abate sectors.

Sicona Battery Technologies are another success story from UOW, whose roots began at the university's business incubator, iAccelerate. Sicona are producing supercharged, next-generation, lithium-ion batteries. Their innovative battery-materials technology increases the energy density of lithium-ion batteries by over 20 per cent.

In addition to these industrial advancements, the University of Wollongong has launched the Australian Research Council, or ARC, Research Hub for Australian Steel Innovation. This collaborative effort between academia and industry is set to deliver innovative research outcomes for the next generation of functional steel products and advanced manufacturing processes, further solidifying the Illawarra region's role in the future of Australian manufacturing.

BlueScope steel, a cornerstone of the Illawarra manufacturing landscape, recently secured a grant of $136.8 million from the Albanese Labor government, aimed at the No. 6 blast furnace reline and upgrade project at Port Kembla—crucial for sustaining iron and steel production in our region. This initiative is part of a broader effort to support hard-to-abate sectors and is indicative of a commitment to maintaining domestic manufacturing capabilities, particularly those essential for the development of Australia's clean-energy sectors. In supporting business, the Albanese Labor government's $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund will play a key role in making more things in Australia. It will drive economic development in our regions and outer suburbs, boost our sovereign capability, diversify the nation's economy and help create secure jobs.

Complementing the NRF by driving early-stage investment in NRF priority areas—which include renewables, low-emission technologies and value add in resources—is the $392 million Industry Growth Program. That provides grants and advice to help small businesses and medium enterprises, or SMEs, to commercialise their ideas and grow their business. This program will go a long way to support SMEs in my electorate, like Gravitas Technologies, who are producing two groundbreaking materials, vulloy and georock. Vulloy is a metallurgic ceramic product that has a significant weight-saving advantage for flight applications and can withstand ultrahigh temperatures—up to 2,000 degrees Celsius. There are currently no comparable global competitors for this technology. This Wollongong company are currently supporting projects across a wide range of sectors.

All these things have been developed in Wollongong over the past 10 years by a young and relatively small team. These examples collectively highlight the Illawarra region's pivotal role— (Time expired)