Ed Husic to do a Ben Chifley

The nation is in the mood for modern manufacturing heroes

The AFR’s Paul Smith  reports Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic complimenting Malcolm Turnbull for his innovation policy investment in quantum computing  

The minister is  right – like him, Mr Turnbull believed in science and technology to grow the economy.

But Mr Turnbull had a problem as PM, when science spruikers said “innovation” some voters heard “job losses”. The excellent ANU Poll reported in 2017 that 74 per cent of people with Year Ten education thought “technological change happens too fast to keep up with” (CMM April 20 2017).  And so Mr Turnbull reduced the rhetoric after his near-electoral death experience in 2016, when it became clear that as priorities went Medibank mattered more than NCRIS (CMM July 6 2016).

But what Mr Turnbull could not sell then, Mr Husic can now – due to the pandemic.

For a start, just as interruption of WWII supply chains made the case for car manufacturing then, risks to off-shore supply of drugs during Covid makes investment in R&D and manufacturing a straightforward sell now. And the way the Commonwealth spent up to keep the economy afloat during the virus-crisis increased Australians’ appetite for the big-spending state. Which is why Mr Husic’s National Reconstruction Fund will be popular, at least until the dud investments show up

Pics of Mr Husic standing next to a quantum computing device won’t have the impact of Ben Chifley in the first Holden, but the politics will work just the same.