Manufacturing loses its voice in Cabinet


Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s recent Cabinet reshuffle has significant implications for business in key policy areas, according to the Australian Industry Group.

AiGroup Chief Executive Heather Ridout said the reshuffle was significant given the looming critical decisions related to the impact of the multi-speed economy.

It has major implications for important sectors of the economy such as manufacturing, Ms Ridout said.

Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Senator Kim Carr was a big loser in the reshuffle, being downgraded to Minister for Manufacturing and Minister for Defence Materiel. He is no longer a member of the inner Cabinet.

“Senator Kim Carr’s previous engagement with the sector gives him a head-start in his new position, Ms Ridout said. “However, it is disappointing that this big employing sector, which is so vital to a balanced and diverse economy, will not have a direct voice at the Cabinet table.”

Ms Ridout said industry will look to Senator Carr as Minister for Defence Materiel to focus on boosting productivity and building on our skills base, as well as improving tendering and contracting for defence capital equipment. 

“As well, we will continue to work with Senator Chris Evans under the new portfolio arrangements to progress the national education and skills agenda.”

Senator Evans lost the Workplace Relations portfolio in the reshuffle, but retains Tertiary Education and Skills. He has gained Science and Research.

Ms Ridout said: "Bill Shorten’s appointment to the Employment and Workplace Relations portfolio comes as the Government prepares to embark on its review of the Fair Work Act.”

Ms Ridout said the Act had been repeatedly tested by Ai Group and found wanting in a number of important respects. 

“We will be meeting with Mr Shorten at the earliest opportunity to discuss what we consider to be essential changes to the Act.”

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