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Australian chemicals and plastics 'underpinning' manufacturing future

17 February, 2014

"The Australian chemistry industry plays a critical role in not only safeguarding Australia's economic resilience, but also underpinning future opportunities for growth across the entire economy," says Samantha Read, CEO of the Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association (PACIA).

"The recent announcements signalling the end of car manufacturing in Australia are disappointing and will have wide-ranging impacts through many supply chains and importantly, communities.

"We must look to the future and chart a path for the Australian manufacturing sector to grow and flourish. The Australian chemicals and plastics industry plays a critical enabling role, supplying inputs to 109 of Australia's 111 industries. This means that innovation and growth within the Australian chemistry industry has a multiplier effect in creating jobs and investment in supply chains across Australia.

"Last year we launched a plan, the 'PACIA Strategic Industry Roadmap', which identifies the fundamental needs for both a vibrant Australian chemistry sector and the industries it underpins. The Australian chemicals and plastics industry is already working together with supply chains and governments on the key actions required for the industry to grow and thrive in the global economy," she said.

The 'PACIA Strategic Industry Roadmap' builds on extensive independent consultation and analysis by CSIRO into the future of the Australian chemistry industry. The research demonstrates how we can achieve sustained growth by taking advantage of major global and domestic economic, social and environmental shifts known as megatrends.

One example is the need for increased food production in response to global population growth. The Australian chemicals and plastics industry plays an enabling role in providing critical inputs to products such as silage film for agricultural production; disinfectants and tamper-proofing in manufacturing; insulation for storage and distribution; and packaging to preserve and protect food.

"To take advantage of these opportunities, industries and governments must continue to work together to remove roadblocks to growth," said Read.

"The good news is that Australia has a potential competitive advantage due to our abundant reserves of natural gas. Our industry is unique in transforming natural gas as a feedstock into essential chemical components for pharmaceuticals; fertilisers; plastics for food; industrial and agricultural packaging; pipes, tanks and fittings for water distribution.

"The Australian chemistry industry has a bright future and can underpin the success of Australian manufacturing. Workers of today and the future will find highly skilled jobs in this dynamic sector. Furthermore, every job in the Australian chemicals and plastics industry creates five more in related supply chains.

"We look forward to continuing the productive work with governments to take advantage of the opportunities for growth," Read said.