On behalf of the Department of Industry, Science and Resources, I would like to welcome you to this consultation presentation on the national reconstruction funds investment mandate.
This is a recording of the consultation presentation for those who were not able to make the consultation sessions or for those wanting additional information on the NRF and the investment mandate.
Consultation sessions were conducted with a wide range of stakeholders to provide information on the purpose of the NRF and its role as a financier, and importantly, to hear from stakeholders on the challenges faced in accessing finance and to understand opportunities for support, diversification and transformation in respect to the NRF priority areas.
Before I begin, I would like to pay my respect to the traditional owners of the lands on which we each meet today. For me, it's the Wiradjuri people, and I pay my respects to their elders past, present, and emerging.
The government introduced the legislation to establish the NRF on the 30th of November 2022. The NRF is a $15 billion financing vehicle that is intended to support, diversify and transform Australia's industry and economy to help create secure, well paid jobs, secure future prosperity and drive sustainable economic growth. The NRF will invest alongside other investors in seven priority areas.
It will target projects and investments that help Australia capture new high value market opportunities rather than investing in business as usual.
Investments will also help drive economic growth in the region's to ensure a wide range of Australians see tangible benefits.
Investments will need to be solely or mainly Australian based. The NRF will have a broad power to invest using equity and debt instruments including loans, equity and guarantees across the NRF’s seven priority areas.
The NRF will not provide grants.
Additionally, the NRF is not intended to compete with private sector investors or government Specialist Investment Vehicles such as the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
A consultation paper on the Investment Mandate was also released on the 30th of November 2022. Submissions to this are encouraged and a due by the 3rd of February 2023.
The NRF will drive investment in seven industry priority areas, focusing on value adding and capability development to leverage Australia's natural and competitive strengths.
The priority areas are renewables and low emissions technologies, medical science, transport, value add in agriculture, forestry and fishery sectors, value add in resources, defence capability and enabling capabilities.
$8 billion of the NRF funding has been earmarked so far for investments in the priority areas. The remaining $7 billion will be available for allocation by the NRF Board in line with the Investment Mandate.
The authority and direction for the NRF is set out in its legislation, its Declaration Instrument, and the Investment Mandate.
As I have already mentioned, the legislation to establish the NRF was introduced into the Parliament on Wednesday the 30th of November 2022. The legislation provides the legal basis for the NRF at a high level and covers issues such as the functions and powers of the NRF, its constitutional limits, the investment mandate and its limitations, functions of the board and its appointment, the appointment of the CEO and the allocation of funding to the NRF.
The legislation provides for the Priority Areas Declaration Instrument and the Investment Mandate.
The 7 NRF priority areas will be set out in the separate legislative instrument known as the Priority Areas Declaration.
The Investment Mandate will provide government direction to the NRF board on a range of matters such as risk and return, including achieving a positive portfolio rate of return and managing risk appropriately; limits on the types of financial instruments that may be used, such as guarantees, equity or derivatives and any associated concessionality limits or requirements; investment governance requirements such as developing policies on environmental, social and governance risks; and core government policy priorities that the board should have regard to when making investment decisions, such as legislated emission reduction and net zero targets; sustainability and circularity principles; regional development; achieving gender equality outcomes; creating opportunities for regional and remote communities, including rural and First Nations communities; and creating secure, well paid jobs.
The investment mandate will also outline an approach for managing national security risks as it relates to NRF investments.
It is expected the investment mandate will specify a positive rate of return for the NRF’s investment portfolio as a whole, which the board will aim to achieve over the medium to long term.
The exact rate of return is yet to be determined, but our intention is to set it at a level that provides the board with the flexibility to appropriately manage risks and returns across the NRF portfolio while also delivering on the NRF’s purpose and covering the government's cost of borrowing. For example, the rate of return could be set at something like the 10 year Australian government bond rate, plus a small margin.
It is expected the Investment Mandate will set out specific limits in relation to the types of financial instruments that can be used, and the investment terms the NRF can provide. This may include limitations on the types of concessions, the value of equity investments, the amount of concessional loans and the use of guarantees.
Very importantly, the investment mandate will not be able to directly or indirectly require the board to make, or indeed not make, specific investments.
The investment mandate may also be supplemented with more detailed guidance from the government, such as via a statement of expectations.
Throughout the consultation process, three questions were posed to participants to seek their views.
These were what are the gaps in or barriers to private sector investment in the National Reconstruction Fund priority areas?
What types of projects or investments should the government direct the NRF to focus on in the NRF priority areas to achieve the NRF purpose?
And what types of projects or investments should the government direct the NRF to not to invest in to ensure the NRF remains focused on its purpose?
Participants in consultation sessions were also invited to ask general questions as they related to the National Reconstruction Fund.
Consultation forums may not have provided sufficient time for participants to convey all thoughts and views on the NRF. As such, we welcome continued engagement. We welcome your written feedback on our consultation paper. Feedback on the paper is open until the 3rd of February 2023.
We look forward to receiving your input.
The government is working to establish the NRF as quickly as possible. We have introduced legislation, but now it needs to be considered by the Parliament. Importantly, consultation will help inform the development of the investment mandate for the NRF.
After that we will need to appoint a board and staff the organisation and do all of the usual establishment work that goes along with setting up a brand new agency.
Once the legislation is passed, the entity can be established and the investment mandate can then be issued to the board.
Finally, to stay up to date on the development of the National Reconstruction Fund, please subscribe to updates on our website at www.industry.gov.au/nationalreconstructionfund.
Thank you for taking the time to listen to this presentation.