Treasurer Jim Chalmers flags new investment strategy, rules out Budget cash splash

Dan Jervis-Bardy
The Nightly
2 Min Read
Dr Chalmers is flagging a renewed focus on attracting investment as he pieces together his third Federal Budget. 
Dr Chalmers is flagging a renewed focus on attracting investment as he pieces together his third Federal Budget.  Credit: Bianca De Marchi/AAP

A new strategy to turbocharge investment is being developed inside the Federal Government as Treasurer Jim Chalmers pursues a fresh approach to getting major projects off the ground.

Dr Chalmers is flagging a renewed focus on attracting investment as he pieces together his third Federal Budget.

The treasurer has ruled out a big cash splash on budget night in May, confirming any extra cost-of-living relief would pale in comparison to the $107 billion reworked stage three tax cuts.

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“Anything that’s too costly, too splashy, risks undoing the good progress we’ve made together on inflation,” Dr Chalmers said in a pre-budget speech to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia.

Dr Chalmers confirmed the revenue upgrades would be smaller than his previous two budgets due to a falling iron price and a softening labour market.

He said the budget would be “protein, not carbs” with an emphasis on the drivers of “sustainable growth”.

That included a “big new focus” on investment.

While pleased business investment had grown each quarter under the Albanese Government’s watch, Dr Chalmers warned the future was “a little less certain, a little less predictable”.

“We can attract investment but we need to be able to absorb it too,” he said.

“If we attract it better, and absorb it better, this will help drive growth in our economy in a world of churn and change.”

The new Government-wide investment strategy would focus on policies to unlock investment, such as approvals, access to energy, better-trained workforces, stronger supply chains and more effective screening of foreign investment.

Dr Chalmers said there would need to be a “more coherent approach” to co-investment with industry, including more help to get priority projects through the approval processes.

The speech comes after the Treasurer this week declared the Federal Government wanted to speed up approvals for resource projects.

The Business Council of Australia (BCA) welcomed news of the strategy, announced just days after it urged the Federal Government to examine how to attract more foreign investment into Australia.

The peak business group called for a full-blown review of foreign investment settings to arrest a trend that has seen Australia become a “net exporter” of capital in recent years.

“This is a promising signal by the Government and we hope it leads to a comprehensive investment strategy for Australia, targeting much-needed capital for key sectors including critical minerals, energy and tech,” BCA chief executive Bran Black said.

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