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What our readers have to say about Australia's future industries

24 February, 2014

While the Australian government expressed disappointment last week over Alcoa's decision to close its Point Henry Smelter and two rolling mills, IndustrySearch readers have weighed into the discussion with some thought-provoking insights.

This is what informed IndustrySearch readers have to say about the issue...

Former Auto Worker | 19/02/2014
"So what are these 'new industries'? Surely we should already know before we wipe out what we have? Why will Australia get these 'new industries' when other countries would offer better incentives? After all if the USA will contribute more than $500 million to a $1.6 billion VW auto plant then I am sure they will want to attract these 'new industries' as well."

Julie | 20/02/2014
"The previous government spent $40 million trying to keep Alcoa afloat. Everyone in the industry knew it was only a matter of time before they closed. The rising cost of employment in Australia is a problem. Our unions sit back and blame everyone else but maybe they need to look at what they do. Employees need to be responsible as well and have ethics which have long gone, and employers need to do same."

Julie | 21/02/2014
"These same people and unions that are complaining about jobs, what vehicles are they driving and are they sticking to buying Australian Made? In the end people can't whinge if they are not helping alleviate the problem.

Think about our future, our kids and grandkids buy Australian and stop the rot. Why should it be cheaper to get things from overseas (freight shipping costs etc)? Maybe we need to look at this, I know employment costs are high here but surely the freight must outweigh these. Have you ever tried to send something outside your own state or even within? The government also needs to look at tariffs and look at these free trade agreements – are we really benefitting?"

Former Auto Worker | 21/02/2014
"I had a manufacturing company in Australia. It wasn't viable and we now import products. Wage rates were not my major issue. I would like to support Australian made but I will not go broke doing it. (I am happy for my taxes to support local industries.) Other countries do support manufacturing.

As a director you are legally required to get the best return for your shareholders. In many cases this means going overseas. The government must have a strategy to encourage local manufacturing or more will move overseas. We also need to look at local freight. You can buy and import a small item from China for less than it will cost to freight that same item within Australia. I would be happy with tariffs in a consistent government policy. I would love to be manufacturing in Australia again."

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Rob S | Monday, February 24, 2014, 11:16 AM
There appears to be an opportunity here to pickup an auto plant and make an electric drive all aluminium car/ute/4wd/people mover chassis that can any of the former bodies fitted, Australian battery technology is some of the worlds best, no gearbox, no engine, no oil changes, when an electric vehicle now can go from 0-100 ks in 3 seconds this is where the world is going, we can generate cheap electricity, we have heaps of bauxite
Former Engineer | Monday, February 24, 2014, 11:19 AM
Who remembers why the "Bonds" brand went offshore. They went off shore to make MORE money. They were already making a tidy profit right here in Broadmeadows. But no it was not enough...shipped everything to china. Stuff our own country for the sake of more profit. In the future we will just be a warehouse and a dumping ground for other countries. No skills needed there. TAFE.....unnecessary. How many TAFE's have lost their Engineering departments in recent times....BOX Hill, RMIT...any others?
craig | Monday, February 24, 2014, 12:06 PM
I am a small business owner, importing sophisticated electronics from the USA & Europe. I also once worked in manufacturing, designing electronic products. While we had exorbitant import duties we could stay afloat, Just! The problem that we and every other Australian manufacturer had was a tiny local market. When you purchase an imported product it is almost always from a manufacturer that has a very large local market. USA 300million, Germany 1.2 Billion through the EU, China 1.5 billion and on and on. If we want local products we had better be prepared to pay a lot more for them, we have no economy of scale. The cost of any manufactured good is not the cost of the components that make it up, but the entire infrastructure that supports it. Office staff, warehousing, labour, transport, insurances, buildings etc. These costs remain virtually the same whether you produce 1 thousand or 1 million. you need all of the infrastructure to keep it together. The other much talked about option of Smart High Tech products is almost laughable. Doesn’t anyone think that every other country in the world is trying to think up smart high tech? Well they are and with far greater resources and wallets than we have. Yes we do come up with some great ideas, but inevitably we sell the patents to someone that can afford to commercialize them, because we can’t. If we are going to succeed we will need to do something, not that anyone else can do, but something that no one else wants to do! Wool, wheat, mining & tariffs have saved us over the 65 years of my life. People of my age have had the best life in Australia's history, don't doom people younger than us to the life of our parents, when you had to save up for an electric fry-pan.
Michael | Friday, February 28, 2014, 1:02 PM
Michael Few points to consider as a person working 15 years ago in a hi- tech biology industry : 1. Customer needs .All of the companies that fail, don't understand what customers in the countries they sell want. The lack of customer needs knowledge is not constrained to manufacturing companies. If somebody things of a hi-tech company that can manufacture and sell products that the market does not need , then good luck , everybody involved including tax payers will loose money. 2. Education , skilling up people : no hi-tech can be done without having people skilled . Do we know what are the needs for the future ? This will be the first step in skilling up. Then are the existing TAFE , Local Unis ready to change to hi- tech technology ? Do they have qualified teachers ? If we don't have people with specific skill in hi-tech , then who is going to invest in Australia if skills are elsewhere ? 3. Research & Development national budget . How much is allocated nationally on R & D ? Does the national government encourage with financial benefits existing industries that invest in R & D? If financial assistance is provided , are there " strings attached " like in other countries ?
Martin S | Tuesday, March 4, 2014, 9:02 AM
The main dissappointment has been that the Commonwealth Government of both pesuasions have wasted billions in giving money to US and Japanese car companies. They were never viable on a Global Scale. The money should have been spent supporting Australian Owned Industries diversify into new high-tech products and in the downstream processing of our competitive advantages (minerals, gas, tourism and agriculture).