The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) has called on Australian governments to show more support for the nation's manufacturing sector.
The union claims governments are now buying fewer locally-made cars at a time when they should be supporting vehicle manufacturers.
At a meeting last week South Australian Union delegates also called on the federal government to ensure all Australia's naval ships are built locally.
AMWU national secretary Paul Bastian said manufacturing had a strong future in Australia provided governments recognised the need to support local producers.
"There are almost one million Australians employed in manufacturing and they represent eight per cent of the country's wealth," Mr Bastian said.
"But since the global financial crisis manufacturers have been battling the high dollar and have seen 125,000 jobs lost from the sector.
"The mining boom cannot last forever and if we don't support the industry now we risk permanently losing much of our manufacturing capacity."
Mr Bastian said 10 years ago 66 per cent of the cars in government fleets were Australian made but that had now fallen to 33 per cent.
"Governments need to take the lead and support the local car industry," he said.
Also, South Australia is ready to build the next generation of Australian naval vessels including submarines, Mr Bastian said.
But government had delayed the work, threatening jobs and skills.
"We have 48 defence vessels to be built for the Australian Navy over the next 30 years, but if we don't get these boats started soon, we could lose our skilled workforce between contracts," he said.