While Australia cannot escape the fact that the decline in the global economy and the high value of the Australian dollar is creating difficulties for Australian manufacturers, the Federal Labor Government recognises the importance of the manufacturing industry as integral to our economy.
The Government has implemented programs aimed at assisting the manufacturing sector to maintain and, where potential exists, improve its competitiveness at home and internationally.
The Prime Minister established The Prime Minister's Taskforce on Manufacturing which is chaired by the Prime Minister herself. The Minister for Industry and Innovation, the Hon Greg Combet AM MP, is Deputy Chair. As this is a whole-of-government task, other senior ministers are members of the taskforce. Membership of the group also includes representatives from industry, unions and the R&D community. The taskforce is guided by the Terms of Reference.
Further information on the Taskforce (including Terms of Reference and contact details) may be found at: http://www.innovation.gov.au/Industry/Manufacturing/Taskforce/Pages/default.aspx .
The Taskforce’s report was delivered to the Government on 16 August and acknowledges that the manufacturing sector currently faces challenges such as the high Australian dollar and more intensive global and regional competition, however, the Taskforce also makes it clear that manufacturing can prosper and grow by taking advantage of significant emerging opportunities, especially in the Asian region.
The Taskforce report builds on the Government’s current policy settings with a powerful vision to ensure manufacturing is an important part of a diverse economy that creates skilled jobs. The Government supports in principle most of the report’s recommendations, and will respond to the report with an Industry and Innovation Statement in the last quarter of the year.
The Government has also stepped in to provide support to specific manufacturing industries, such as the automotive and steel industry, and is absolutely committed to investing in education and skills training for our future workforce.
The Steel Transformation Plan is a $300 million pledge to secure the future for steel and will provide certainty to the steel industry so that it can invest, innovate and improve its competitiveness.
The Steel Transformation Plan is part of a comprehensive plan to transform Australian steel. This industry can and will compete with the aid of world-class Australian science.
The Government has increased support for science and innovation by 43 per cent, and raised the budget for universities and the CSIRO to new record levels and, has built the $50 million Buy Australia at Home and Abroad package to get work for local firms.
The Labor Government appointed the Steel Supplier Advocate and the ICN Steel Sector Specialist and, applied Australian Industry Participation requirements to the Government’s own procurement. Increased funding has been made available to support the Industry Capability Network and the Supplier Access to Major Projects Scheme.
And, the Government put in place the national Enterprise Connect business advisory network, which has already worked with some 500 metal and metal fabrication firms to improve their efficiency and competitiveness. A Steel Industry Innovation Council was also established which has put the industry at the centre of government deliberations on policies like anti dumping.
The steel industry is a keystone for manufacturing in Australia, providing inputs into the infrastructure, energy, defence, transport, automotive, communications, construction and consumer good industries. It is an important regional employer with Australia's primary steel production in Port Kembla, Newcastle, Westernport Bay and Whyalla.
The Steel Transformation Plan will allow steelmakers to make the necessary adaptations and modifications to ensure their long-term viability, and in doing so, secure the jobs of thousands of Australian workers. It is essential that the industry is supported during this period of transition.
Further information on Government assistance programs to the manufacturing industry can be found at: http://www.ausindustry.gov.au/programs/manufacturing/Pages/default.aspx and on
The jobs of the future will require a highly educated and skilled workforce. The Federal Labor Government has doubled investment in school education, upgraded facilities at every school, and provided more information for parents than ever before. It is delivering the skills and training required for those jobs through its $3bn Jobs and Skills package. An additional 150,000 students are now attending university.
There’s still a lot to be done but the Federal Labor Government is committed to supporting an on-going and vibrant manufacturing sector in Australia.