Treasurer Jim Chalmers has delivered the Albanese Labor government’s first federal budget, including $17.2 million for a pilot Food Innovation Hub on NSW’s central coast.

The funding was announced by Labor as an election promise earlier this year and is part of $111.3 million allocated to develop regional manufacturing. Minister for Industry and Science, Ed Husic, said the funds would help to “build a stronger and more resilient future” for manufacturing in Australia’s regions.

In an economic boost to the central coast region, the pilot Food Innovation Hub will be strategically based between Sydney and Newcastle, at Lisarow. Regional Development Australia Central Coast (RDACC) CEO John Mouland said earlier in the year that if the election promise was realised it would provide a boost to the “central coast’s reputation as an internationally renowned centre of excellence in food innovation.”

RDACC developed the business case for the hub in collaboration with Central Coast Industry Connect (CCIC). Executive Director of CCIC, Frank Sammut, said today (26.10) that “the coast has a strong food and beverage manufacturing presence contributing $1.4b in output to the region” and that the facility would enable the scale up of “food businesses, a range of pilot facilities and a skills hub servicing the local food and beverage manufacturing sector.”

Also welcoming the announcement, the Australian Food & Grocery Council (AFGC) CEO Tanya Barden said Labor’s first budget demonstrated a “focus on rebuilding Australian industry, which has faced extraordinary challenges in recent years from COVID-19, natural disasters and global supply chain disruptions.” The AFGC represents Australia’s food and grocery manufacturers, the largest manufacturing sector in the country, valued at $133.6 billion.

Barden credited the Albanese government for focusing on “industry, regional growth and building the skilled workforce of the future” and welcomed other budget measures including a boost to migration numbers and support for the Australian Apprenticeships Incentive System. The response comes in contrast to the luke-warm reaction from agriculture and food manufacturers to the Morrison government’s final budget earlier this year.

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