“I want to use the power of government to bring back Aussie manufacturing. Because Australia should always be a company that makes things.”
This statement, made by then leader of the Labor Party and now Prime Minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese in 2020, is coming to fruition with the recent commitment to a $1 billion investment in advanced manufacturing.[i]
This funding is part of a larger national reconstruction fund. According to a statement by the Prime Minister, it is “intended to stimulate employment opportunities and replace the 85,000 jobs lost under the previous administration.”[ii]
New jobs would be created for manufacturing positions in the transport, defence, resources, agricultural and food processing, medical science, renewables and low emission technologies industries.
“Australia must be able to stand on our own two feet”
Marie Kinsella, CEO of the International Exhibition & Conference (IEC) Group, and organiser of the upcoming Modern Manufacturing Expo in September, agrees with Prime Minister Albanese’s statement that ‘serious countries can make things and stand on their own two feet when it comes to manufacturing essentials.’
“It’s essential that Australia be self-sufficient when it comes to manufacturing. The pandemic further proved the pitfalls of relying on other countries to fill the gaps in our supply chain,” says Marie.
“As organisers of some of the biggest and most influential industry-focused events in Australia, we regularly come into contact with smaller manufacturers who’ve made it clear that while they would like to advance their manufacturing capabilities to become more competitive, they often don’t have the resources to do so.”
Targeted government support for local manufacturers may be key to helping Australia catch up to the pace of the global economy. A 2020 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report ranked Australia as last in manufacturing self-sufficiency among the world’s developed economies[iii], and 15th in the world for innovation inputs but only 33rd for innovation outputs, according to the Global Innovation Index.[iv]
Capitalising on local resources
Despite what the OECD ranking may imply, Australia is not lacking opportunities nor the drive to implement a world-leading advanced manufacturing strategy.
“At our Modern Manufacturing Town Hall earlier this year we saw some of the best and brightest names in the industry like Thales, CSIRO and the University of Sydney come together to brainstorm ideas and share how their organisations are using technology to move local manufacturing into the future,” says Marie
“In NSW in particular, the collaboration between public, private sectors and academia has the potential to play a major role in the call to re-shore manufacturing,” she adds. Similar collaborations in other states also exist.
Job-creation projects: Up to $15 billion of capital will be invested in job-creating projects through loans, equity and guarantees in key manufacturing sectors.
Energy investments: Labor plans to allocate cheap and renewable energy resources where it’s needed to upgrade the country’s outdated energy grid and power the technologies needed for a Modern Manufacturing strategy.
Buy Australia Plan: Prime Minister Albanese has promised to redirect government contracts away from international competitors to Australian businesses and maximise the use of Australian-made products, goods and materials in future projects.
Public transport production: More trains, trams and ferries will be manufactured locally.
Defence Industry Development Strategy: $270 billion of defence spending has been allocated for the next decade. By maximising local content, Labor has promised to create jobs and establish a local defence manufacturing sector.
Local skills capabilities: To ensure that the skills needed to implement advanced manufacturing are available, the government will train thousands of additional workers to ensure that one in ten workers on major government projects is an apprentice, trainee or cadet.
“We look forward to seeing the Labor Government’s plans to advance manufacturing progress and put into action and we will assist in whatever way we can,” Marie concludes.
The Modern Manufacturing Expo takes place from 20-21 September 2022 at the Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park, Homebush. It is designed for key decision-makers and management looking to explore the latest automation and digital offerings for future growth and features a showcase of technology advancements to innovative operational practices for manufacturers.