On Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced $243 million in fresh grants for Australian projects that will source and refine critical minerals, including rare-earth metals – key manufacturing ingredients in the renewable energy economy.
The move, in advance of a looming federal election, kills two political birds with one policy stone. In theory, it will build a local industry that supports the world’s shift to a green-energy future, for which these minerals are deeply needed. It will also reduce Australia’s reliance on China, which currently supplies almost all of the world’s critical minerals, and with whom our international relations continue to fray.
But absent from the PM’s announcement is a broader plan to locate more of the links in the EV and renewable supply chain onshore: an economic opportunity some policy experts believe the nation should take to help us transition away from our fossil-fuel industry which, even as its death knell sounds, doesn’t seem to want to die.