Push for Protective Gear Made in Australia

July 8, 2020 Updated: July 8, 2020

The federal government is being urged to take the same Australian-made approach to masks and other health protection equipment that it does to military uniforms.

Ethical Clothing Australia is set to appear before a committee hearing on July 9 looking at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Australia’s foreign affairs, defence and trade.

The organisation says the pandemic highlighted the need for Australia to be able to source, produce and ensure the standards of personal protective equipment.

“This is critical in the event that the health risks from COVID-19 increase or in the event of another similar health crisis or other security threats or major events,” the body said in a submission to the inquiry.

“This would be similar to the commonwealth procurement rules exemptions that are in place for the standard combat uniform worn by Australian Defence Force members.”

The exemption for ADF uniforms was put in place for security reasons.

“The government should seek similar exemptions across a range of PPE areas in order to maintain and secure our country’s essential security and health needs post COVID-19,” the organisation says.

“The opportunity is here to secure the local capabilities, skills and supply chains onshore to provide essential protective clothing.”

It would also minimise the risk of goods being supplied from overseas businesses which exploit workers or are engaged in modern slavery.

More than 100 manufacturers are accredited with Ethical Clothing Australia, which is also backed by the Australian Industry Group, NSW Business Chamber and unions.

Paul Osborne in Canberra