A non-government taskforce made up of business, unions and the research sector handed their “Smarter Manufacturing for a Smarter Australia” report to the Federal Government on Aug 15.
The report identified key threats to the sector, while highlighting the importance of manufacturing to the Australian economy. The strong Australian dollar, which continues to reduce international competitiveness, was one of many pressures, including increasing costs, tougher competition and reduced overall demand.
National Secretary for the Australian Manufacturing Worker’s union (AMWU) Paul Bastion says a strategic national plan is needed to “get work back into our factories and safeguard our skill base”.
“We have lost over 100,000 jobs from manufacturing in the last four years and the report highlights that maybe as many as 85,000 may go unless we take decisive action now,” Mr Bastion said.
“We need to implement a strategic national plan to make our industry more productive and competitive across the medium to long term.
“We can do this by focusing on our strengths of innovation, science and research.”
Roy Green, dean of the University of Technology Business School, says in an op-ed on The Conversation website that more attention should be given to Australia’s competitive advantage in overseas markets and global supply chains.
The Australian manufacturing industry must “innovate and reposition up the global value chain” to survive, according to the taskforce.
The Federal Government will respond to the report’s proposed policy measures in an industry statement later in the year.
Some of the reports key recommendations included:
- Setting up a anti dumping regime to stamp out a flood of cheap overseas imports
- Bringing forward infrastructure projects such as public transport
- Buying and building Defence projects locally
- Buy Australian policies in Government procurement
- Innovation in managerial and workforce skills and practices
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