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Australian manufacturing holds its own in the world

04 April, 2006

Australian manufacturing is technologically advanced, innovative and globally competitive. More than 1 million people now work in the sector, which comprises around 12% of the Australian economy and generated A$96b in 2004-05.

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Advanced manufacturing now accounts for around half of Australia’s manufacturing output and includes aerospace, automotive, machinery, tooling, instruments, chemicals, plastics and many other products with a high degree of transformation.

Australia is known for its strengths in design, management, flexibility, brand quality, safety, reliability, logistics infrastructure, skilled workforce, productive business culture, customer relationships, innovative systems, sophisticated IP protection and world class R&D capabilities.

The sector has made significant efficiency gains in recent years as a result of investment in new technology, innovation, industrial relations reform and a reduction in tariffs.


Manufacturing output has grown by 4% a year since 1996, and the sector has become Australia's largest export earner with annual exports exceeding A$60 billion. The fastest growing category of exports has been advanced manufacturing, with export growth of 7% in 2004-05.

Manufacturing accounts for the largest share (46%) of business expenditure on R&D at A$3.3b. More than A$9b is invested annually on new plant and equipment, and foreign investment in manufacturing grew by 6.5% in 2003-04 to A$23.1 billion.


In many fields, Australian manufacturers are world leaders. Well known Australian innovations in advanced manufacturing include:

- Next generation recyclable packaging;
- Design and manufacture of advanced CNC9 cutting and punch grinding machines;
- Pioneering optical lens technology;
- Efficient solar and fuel cell technology;
- High speed passenger ferries;
- Polymer banknotes;
- Advanced nanomaterials;
- Advanced composite structures;
- The bionic ear;
- The blackbox flight recorder; and
- The ultrasound scanner.


If you’re thinking of investing in Australian manufacturing, you’ll be in good company. Global companies like Boeing, BAE Systems, Toyota, General Motors, Ford, Mitsubishi, BASF, DuPont, McLanahan, Siemens, Schefenacker Vision Systems and many others have found Australia presents a compelling business case with world class skills and innovation at a competitive cost, quality, reliability, proximity to Asian markets and an outstanding lifestyle for staff.

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