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Manufacturing task force to seek new policy for SMEs
16/08/2012 - A manufacturing task force will recommend an eight-point plan to help the sector adjust to the impact of the high Australian dollar and make the most of the booming Asian market.
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The task forces set up by Prime Minister Julia Gillard late last year is expected to call for measures to lift productivity and encourage investment in manufacturing, when its report is released in Canberra on Thursday.
It will seek a new industry policy specifically for small and medium sized manufacturers, a boost in training, better targeting of government assistance, help with breaking into export markets and a focus on innovation.
Gillard told the task force's May meeting the government would respond to the report with a policy statement to build on existing programs and set out a long-term plan to work more closely with unions, business and researchers.
The federal budget this year allocated $29.8 million for a Manufacturing Technology Innovation Centre, to better link businesses and researchers in the area of advanced manufacturing and information technologies.
The task force also involved Treasurer Wayne Swan, the ACTU, CSIRO, OneSteel, Boeing, Holden, Kraft Australia, among other companies and organisations.
Greens Deputy Leader and industry spokesperson Adam Bandt says he hopes the manufacturing industry taskforce report will push for local content rules for big investments such as mining projects.
"Australian manufacturing needs a roadmap for the future," Bandt said in a statement.
"Linking investment with innovation and skills and training will be vital.
"But we need to have an industry policy with teeth so it needs to include local content rules."
He said Canada and Brazil have local content rules and there is no reason why Australia can't do the same.
Shadow minister for industry Sophie Mirabella says the report will be a disappointing failure if it does not seriously address the impact of the carbon tax and "productivity-stifling" workplace laws on manufacturing.
She says the Labor government has ignored the elephant in the room with its failure to recognise the devastating impact of its new taxes, regulations and costs on manufacturing.
"This Labor government has already fundamentally ignored key recommendations of major reviews in the Innovation and Industry portfolio — like the Cutler Review, the Bracks Review and the CRC Review — so no one should have any confidence that they will end up implementing the findings of this one," Mirabella said in a statement.
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