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Govt should 'fast-track' projects to boost manufacturing
17/08/2012 - The federal government has been urged by industry and unions to fast-track infrastructure projects and bump up local content requirements to boost the ailing manufacturing sector. Andrea Hayward
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Prime Minister Julia Gillard was on Thursday handed a report by the Manufacturing Industry Taskforce she appointed late last year.
Among its 41 recommendations were calls to bring forward and increase investment in infrastructure projects, further stimulus in residential and commercial building markets and an expanded plan to encourage local participation in supply contracts.
The taskforce, made up of industry leaders and union bosses, also called for a reduction in business tax burden.
Gillard backed the report in principle but was quick to rule out any support for recommendations to further investigate a sovereign wealth fund and a domestic reservation policy for gas.
The sector faced acute pressures, particularly because of the strength of the Australian dollar, she said.
It is changing business models in manufacturing, bringing pressure on manufacturing but also an era of tremendous opportunity," she said.
"Don't let the pessimists say that we can't have a future in manufacturing."
Australian Manufacturing Workers Union national secretary Paul Bastian said Australia had lost 100,000 jobs or 10 per cent of its workforce capability in the last five years.
A further 85,000 jobs are at risk in the same period ahead.
The biggest problem was the high Australian dollar, which is going to remain high for a while, Bastian told reporters.
"Anything the government can do to bring the dollar down, we say, should be explored," he said.
Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Dave Oliver said the report was not a "silver bullet" but it marked the start of a process to improve conditions for local manufacturing despite significant challenges ahead.
"This is a blueprint or a road map for the future and it will only succeed if we continue to engage constructively and work together," he said.
Opposition industry spokeswoman Sophie Mirabella said the report was another example of the prime minister outsourcing the basic responsibility of making policy.
"The taskforce's report is very disappointing in its limp response and I don't have any confidence there will be any decisive action from the government coming out of this report," she said.
She said the report was horribly compromised because the union bosses on the taskforce who had anointed the prime minister couldn't be expected to attack carbon pricing.
The report made one recommendation in relation to the carbon tax - to ameliorate the impacts of the carbon price to boost the competitiveness of the industry.
Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox said the carbon price and workplace relations needed a separate discussion.
Pressures on the sector were tremendously challenging, with a sharp fall in unemployment and factory closures but there were incredible opportunities, Willox said.
"The heart of this report goes to finding ways to improve Australia's industrial productivity," he said.
The government has moved to immediately improve collaboration and industry sharing arrangements between industry and researchers.
It will respond to the report in a statement in the last quarter of the year.
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Ben | 17/08/2012 10:29 1
We have proven that we can be smart and innovative in design and manufacture. With Governments at all levels supporting the 'buy local' adage then there would certainly be a continuation of this.
Lou Furbadamo | 18/08/2012 00:46 2
This is all one big pile of political, union & bureaucratic foul scenting dung heap, that only the biggest Rhino would be proud of. Surely, after years of abundant manufacturing failure, the first thing they should’ve now, finally objectively, carefully investigated. Which they’ve arguably never seriously done, cause they highly suspect they won’t like the obvious wasteful answers & cure! Is find out the causes and policy failings that have progressively led us to this sorry manufacturing state and seriously look for clues to actually improve? Instead, it’s so disappointing & frightening to read such continued wasteful dribble! Which only further confirms that the leaders of this country: 1) Have no idea of basic economics & disciplined monetary policy. 2) Haven’t learnt anything from the past 30 years of culpable industrial mistakes & destruction. 3) Have no Idea of where we’re at, in the disappearing manufacturing death spiral. 4) Have No Idea of recovery strategy & how to fix, the ongoing disastrous malaise, rampant deindustrialisation and massive job loss that’s continually occurring! 5) They’re all purely committed to immature and destructive, snorting party politics, with little regard for the country’s long term future. So therefore, the only comments with any pertinence or credence resort to factual, “Australia had lost circa 100,000 jobs or 10 per cent of its workforce capability in the last five years”.(125,000 jobs lost quoted by the Coalition in the Senate) and that “a further 85,000 jobs are at risk in the same period ahead”. With trivial, earth shattering in-depth observations that “Pressures on the sector were tremendously challenging, with a sharp fall in unemployment and factory closures but there were incredible opportunities” Especially since there’s related similar “incredible opportunity” for reincarnation or going to heaven when you die as well”, if only you were equally smart to work out how? I’d probably vindictively deceive and deservedly con them into the short cut to a welcoming Comrade Lucifer! But what should they expect with such petty redundant nonsense. Clearly there’s nothing tangibly positive in all this “Hoo Haa”! and, the arguably leaderless, straying Australian Economy will “pessimists” continue disappearing down the “deindustrialisation Gurgler”. The only technical point of clarification with the latest “cash splash & grab”, being whether it’ll be a clockwise or anticlockwise rotating vortex down to China, out the other side? Fascinatingly, and this question is probably too complex for our, by now undercharged government luminaries: But, if as claimed here, “The heart of this report goes to finding ways to improve Australia's industrial productivity," and Australia's industrial productivity is clearly disappearing up or down it’s own spout! Does that philosophically mean that Oz has No, or will soon have No Heart? Heartfelt Beating Cheers, Furbo!
Lou Furbadamo | 18/08/2012 09:35 3
Hello Optimistic Ben, Sadly, your brief summation is at best self flattery & premature. Considering that for over thirty years, devious government experts, spruikers & bulls**t merchants have been force feeding us your very appealing, ego jibe! Yet, Australian manufacturing has helplessly lost 500,000 jobs in that time. Mostly to far more competitive, cheaper & typically un-vetted lower quality overseas Asian “ Free Trade Competitors” crap? So you must truly be a Port Or Collingwood Die Hard? No offence intended to Treaders or Eddie! Parochial, one eyed bias is quite appropriate for our truly great national sport, but it’s like coming out to play with two filthy balls, but no jocks & boots when it comes to economic & Political matters! Cause the best you’ll achieve, with that naïve short sighted approach, is a profoundly embarrassing w**k! So please, stop implying an Andrea Bocelli like, hyped up “Vincero, Vincero!” Australian Industry Victory. Cause, far too many here are “Asleep” at the desperately urgent, alba watch! And judging by past abysmal performances, we’d need to impose a totalitarian, Australian Inquisition style Government here, to force the mostly uncaring, apathetic locals, to all expensively “buy local”, as at least you & I try to? But good on you!, for at least emphasising “ buy local”. Cause if the government stopped lying & trying to deceitfully fool Australians on how Great & Futuristically, Boom prosperous our manufacturing industry is! Many more Aussies, would be far more concerned about the real economy and start demanding responsible government action, and “Buy Local”. Mind you, there’s no point wanting to patriotically “buy local”, when we’re fast approaching the point where it’s “all imported, foreigner goods on the shelves” and there’s NO LOCAL products to select from anymore! As I’ve said before, it seems nowadays, that thanks to our wasteful government’s rogue policies. We now import most goods with the implied tag “Made by Foreigners, Somewhere Else, Suckers”? So, Happy Lolly Popping & Cheers Furbo!
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