Before the federal election some 18 months ago Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the Coalition is committed to a strong Australian-based manufacturing sector.
Australian manufacturing needs a long-term strategy built on stability, the PM said.
Now Industry and Science Minister Ian Macfarlane has unveiled an ambitious package designed to get the struggling manufacturing sector back on track.
Mr Macfarlane acknowledges that manufacturing plays a vital role in the Australian economy.
It not only employs about 8 per cent of the national workforce, or nearly million Australians, but it generates 6.5 per cent of GDP.
With the tumbling Australian dollar, combined record low interest rates and promised cuts in company tax rates, manufacturers can finally see some light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.
The abolition of the carbon and mining taxes and federal government initiatives to block the flood of cheap imported goods will also help the cause.
Mr Macfarlane says the Government’s Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda will provide the blueprint for a new policy approach to Australia’s industry development.
The package includes a $188 million Industry Growth Centres initiative, a $50 million Manufacturing Transition Program as well as a $484.2 million Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Program.
And a $155 million Growth Fund has been established to help businesses diversify their operations, provide new skills to workers and create hundreds of jobs.
These initiatives come at a time when manufacturing in Australia is at the crossroads.
The demise of the automobile industry and other labour intensive manufacturing sectors such as clothing and textiles has meant Australian industry must now work smarter.
To survive, Australian manufacturers must become more innovative.
The era of labour intensive manufacturing in Australia is dead.
As Mr Macfarlane rightly points, out manufacturers must now focus on advanced manufacturing – medical technologies and pharmaceuticals, food and agribusiness, mining equipment, technology and services, as well as oil, gas and energy resources.
Mr Macfarlane has identified significant opportunities for Australian manufacturers this year.
He has pledged to work with industry to ensure the economic framework is in place to take full advantage of those opportunities.
We look forward to the year ahead.