Joint media release with the Prime Minister, the Hon Julia Gillard MP
Manufacturing can prosper and grow in Australia if the sector takes advantage of emerging opportunities in the Asian region, a national report into manufacturing has found.
Members of the Prime Minister's Manufacturing Taskforce - representing business, unions and the research sector - presented their report Smarter Manufacturing for a Smarter Australia today.
The Gillard Government is committed to ensuring that Australia retains a strong manufacturing industry and will respond to the report's recommendations with an Industry and Innovation Statement in the last quarter of the year.
The Taskforce report concludes that manufacturing is an important part of the Australian economy, with significant links to other industries including construction, agriculture, utilities and services.
However it says the sector currently faces challenges such as the high Australian dollar, the strength of the resources boom in terms of capital and labour, more intensive global and regional competition and the continuing fallout from the global financial crisis.
Acknowledging this economic context, the report maps out a powerful vision for the future of Australian manufacturing. It makes more than 40 recommendations designed to strengthen local firms as they adapt to global economic change.
The report makes it clear that manufacturing can prosper and grow by taking advantage of significant emerging opportunities, especially in the Asian region.
The Government is supportive in principle of most of the report's recommendations.
However the Government does not support recommendations in the report to further investigate a Sovereign Wealth Fund and a domestic reservation policy for gas.
The Australian economy is strong, with solid growth, low unemployment, contained inflation and a record pipeline of investment. While conditions remain uneven, recent interest rate cuts will provide some support to households and businesses. In order to support demand and address the immediate pressures in the manufacturing sector, the Government is implementing a range of polices, including:
- Lifting Australian industry participation in major resources projects;
- Rewarding innovation in manufacturing by introducing a new R&D Tax Incentive and boosting support through Commercialisation Australia;
- Reducing the energy costs of manufacturers through the $1.2 billion Clean Technology Programs;
- Encouraging investment in clean energy through the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the $3.2 billion Australian Renewable Energy Agency;
- Co-investing with industry in improved productivity and competitiveness in automotive manufacturing;
- Strengthening the Australian Government's Fleet Vehicle Selection Policy requiring departments and agencies to select Australian-made passenger vehicles, unless there is a genuine operational requirement that means they have to do otherwise; and
- Delivering $3 billion to create more training places and fundamentally reform the training system, including co-investing with industry to improve the skills of the manufacturing workforce.
In addition, the Government will immediately bring together the Industry Capability Network, the Buy Australian at Home and Abroad Supply Advocates, AusIndustry and Enterprise Connect to share information on opportunities for Australian manufacturers in large domestic investment projects, with a particular focus on the resources sector.
Once these opportunities are identified, these agencies will work with Australian manufacturers to assist them to secure work on these projects.
This network will be tasked to work closely with Austrade and the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation to identify and provide information on opportunities in export markets, with a focus on linking into global supply chains.
The report builds on current policy settings with a strong set of proposals to ensure manufacturing is a dynamic contributor to Australia's prosperity, with an economy that has a diverse base creating skilled jobs.
The Government also accepts the Taskforce's recommendation to establish a Manufacturing Leaders Group. We see an important role for this group in assisting the Government to implement its response to the Taskforce's recommendations.
One of the policy agendas identified by the non-government members of the Taskforce is to address Australia's competitiveness through the generation, dissemination and application of knowledge. This calls for researchers, research agencies and business to rethink how they can best work together to encourage innovation.
Such collaboration will be facilitated through the Industrial Research Transformation Program (ITRP), which supports strong partnerships between research and industry and encourages PhD students and postdoctoral researchers to gain industry experience.
The ITRP funding rules will be finalised in the context of the Industry and Innovation statement. The Australian Research Council will consult with Industry and the Research Sector in order to release the rules in coming weeks.
The Taskforce report is available.
Media Contacts: Minister Combet's Office 02 6277 7920
PM's Press Office 02 6277 7744