Sue Morphet … ‘profound difference’
Manufacturing Australia (MA), a business coalition of Australia’s biggest manufacturers, has called on senior politicians from all parties to support proposals aimed at boosting industry and creating new jobs.
Newly appointed MA chairperson Sue Morphet recently led a delegation to Canberra to meet with senior MPs to unveil the new reform package.
Ms Morphet urged the MPs to commit to working in partnership with the Australian manufacturing sector to address three new pillars of reform that “will make a profound difference to the competitiveness and sustainability of Australian manufacturing in 2013 and beyond.”
The Three Pillars of Manufacturing Reform include:
1. Australia’s energy advantage
Australia is an energy and resources superpower. Currently our domestic energy policies largely fail to capitalise on our energy advantage. Unlike countries that identify and exploit their natural advantages, Australia is squandering its own.
MA believes that Australia can seize its energy advantage by:
- Creating a domestic gas market that enables value-adding manufacturing alongside gas exports
- Ensuring electricity reforms prioritise maintaining Australia’s energy advantage
- Making the Renewable Energy Target a percentage, not an absolute number and
- Removing the disadvantage of introducing a carbon tax that is not consistent with our trading partners.
2. Restoring Fair Trade
Australia is a trade orientated economy that has prospered over the last 30 years by pursuing an open trade agenda. Mismanagement of open trade can easily lead to unintended consequences such as dumping and exclusion of domestic manufacturers from domestic markets. This undermines fairness and limits growth and development in domestic manufacturing.
MA is seeking fair outcomes for trade exposed industries which will operate within World Trade Organisation guidelines and allow Australia’s manufacturing sector to grow.
MA has identified three priority areas for action by Federal and State Governments:
- Overhaul coastal shipping regulations to ensure Australian manufacturers are not disadvantaged.
- Strengthen anti-dumping powers to stop predatory dumping and circumvention of dumping duties by foreign importers, address currency manipulation and provide redress against subsidies to foreign manufacturers.
- Strengthen industry participation schemes to remove “gaming” and ensure they meet their intended aim of boosting Australian involvement in major projects.
3. Investing for manufacturing growth
To grow Australian manufacturing, two significant obstacles must be overcome. First, industry, governments and communities alike must shift the perception that manufacturing in Australia is a “sunset” industry whose future will be marked by continued decline. Second, government policy settings should recognise and address unfair barriers currently placed on domestic manufacturers.
MA has identified five priority areas for action by Federal and State Governments:
- Maximise competitiveness through investment in infrastructure.
- Promote research and development.
- Strengthen industry-linked training to up-skill Australia’s manufacturing workforce.
- Increase the flexibility of Australian manufacturing workplaces.
- Strengthen regulations that stimulate demand and remove the burden of regulations that do not.
“Manufacturing is the value-adding lifeblood of a balanced Australian economy, said Ms Morphet. “Through job creation, import replacement and maximising the value of our natural resources, manufacturing delivers tremendous benefits to the nation.
“Through smart policy and strategic investments, our sector can in the next decade directly and indirectly create 100,000 new jobs and drive a manufacturing resurgence throughout rural, regional and outer-suburban Australia,” she said.
“MA intends to continue working with the Australian Federal and State Governments as well as industry to ensure fair and appropriate industry policies, and to secure the future of this sector.”