Federal Labor is moving to stem the flow of Australian ideas and jobs offshore by championing innovation in a budget reply that is also expected to spend big on social housing and focus on women and clean energy jobs.
The speech from Labor leader Anthony Albanese is expected to frame up the Labor side of Australia's electoral contest two days after Treasurer Josh Frydenberg handed down a big spending third budget which is widely regarded as having one eye on the next election.
Despite projecting a decade of budget deficits, Mr Frydenberg has opted for stimulus over repair flagging personal and business tax cuts and spending more than $70 billion dollars on areas such as aged care, childcare, infrastructure and women.
On Thursday night, Mr Albanese will announce Labor's "Start-up Year" initiative, a $20 million plan to offer loans to 2,000 students to cover a year of specialist mentoring at Australian universities and private-sector incubators.
"This is about commercialising Australian ideas and maximising the jobs and economic benefit arising from that," Mr Albanese said ahead of the speech.
"Labor will introduce a Start-up Year to accelerate ideas into new businesses, providing a platform for future job growth and economic opportunity."
"Australia is home to many incredible start-ups, but we're languishing with one of the lowest start-up formation rates in the world. We must be more ambitious and commit ourselves to bringing more great Australian ideas to the global market."
The Start-up Year loans will be delivered through the existing HELP system and be targeted at students in their final year at university, or perhaps students considering undertaking an additional year of study.
The loans are designed to help cover costs up to $11,300, to take part in an accredited accelerator program.
"This policy harnesses the ideas and energy of young Australians and focuses on the huge potential our younger generations have to lead us into the future," Labor's innovation spokesmen Ed Husic said.
"We need to back our next generation of ideas."
In the budget, the Morrison government introduced a "patent box" tax regime aimed at encouraging innovative medical and biotech companies to stay in Australia.
Any income from a company's patent will, under this scheme, be taxed at a concessional rate of 17 per cent starting from July 1, 2022. This is half the rate applied to large businesses, while small to medium business are taxed at 25 per cent.
The government said it would consult on applying the patent box to the clean energy sector.
In the budget reply, the Labor leader is also expected to announce a skills and clean energy plan and a major social housing plan worth around $10 billion.
"Well, one of the things that economists have said is that if you're looking at an economic downturn, a really smart way to invest is in social housing, whether it be maintenance or new social housing," he said.
"And I think that, in terms of my view of the world, what I want to do is to make sure that any spending leaves a lasting legacy. And that's my problem with this government's approach."
The opposition will focus on clean energy jobs in the budget reply.
Mr Albanese last month spruiked a plan for a clean energy "jobs revolution" that could be achieved through the use of a $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund to direct investment in job-marking ventures in clean energy and lower emissions technologies.
He said the "revolution" was based on "one inescapable fact - renewable energy is not only clean, but cheap. And getting cheaper."
It is expected the Labor leader will take his renewable energy jobs plan further on Thursday in the area of skills training.
The opposition's clean energy focus will stand in stark contrast to the government's limited program of clean energy measures in its budget.
Science and environment groups have been left disappointed by energy measures in the budget, noting they focus more on fossil fuels like gas and oil over renewable energy.
The Australian Conservation Foundation says of every $100 in the budget, 80 cents went to climate, water and the environment.
But the Energy Minister Angus Taylor says the government is supporting the development of new energy technologies, like hydrogen energy.
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In speech to the Smart Energy Council conference in Sydney on Thursday, Mr Taylor is expected to say that clean energy investment will not be at the cost of jobs or lower power prices.
"We have made it clear that we will meet and exceed our emissions reduction commitments without imposing additional costs on households, businesses or the economy," he said in a speech excerpt seen by The Canberra Times.
"That's what technology, not taxes means - because energy consumers are at the heart of the government's approach to energy policy."
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