Australia wants foreign investors to fund net-zero

Australian Finance Minister Simon Birmingham (foreign investors)

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham has asked foreign investors to return to Australia as Chinese investment wanes and the Morrison government relies on the private sector to fund its net-zero target, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

The pitch to foreign investors at a major Asian investment conference in Singapore on Monday aimed to recruit inbound investment in Australia, with the government’s technology investment road map is expected to reap up to $20 billion being invested over the next 10 years—much of it from overseas.

“Inbound investment into Australia is so crucial if we are to realise the potential business growth in these sectors,” Birmingham told the Milken Institute.

“Australia is a country that has relied throughout our modern history in terms of foreign investment, helping us to be able to achieve the type of economic scale that we have,” Birmingham said.

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Birmingham said Australia had to follow the rest of the world in its net-zero commitment, or it risked being left behind economically.

“A fundamental consideration in those who had understandable concerns about making the commitment to net zero by 2050 from an Australian perspective were the commitments that were being made elsewhere around the world,” Birmingham said.

“If we are seeing other nations, particularly those who are major users of Australian resources and energy at present, fulfil their commitments to achieve net zero by 2050, then that means that our export mix will change, has to change, and it will see a decline in relation to some of those traditional fuel sources.”

He said the government’s priority was now “adapting the export base” and ensuring Australia becomes a leading supplier of hydrogen as a fuel source.

The international pitch will aim to turn around a 48 per cent drop in foreign direct investment in 2020. Chinese investment was down 61 per cent in the same period after tensions with Beijing over human rights and COVID-19 saw Australia hit with $20 billion in trade sanctions.