By Ian Harrison
The issue of Australian suppliers being locked out of major project developments due to private deals further up the contract chain giving preference to overseas suppliers, has received a fair amount of publicity of late — all bad and deservingly so.
At a time when our manufacturers are doing it pretty tough because of the high $AUD — in large part as a result of our enormous mineral and energy reserves — this would be about as un-Australian as it gets.
Australia needs a vibrant, innovative and prosperous manufacturing sector, and the range of major projects coming on stream should be recognised as an important opportunity to further strengthen this essential part of our economy and community.
Which brings me to some good news.
The federal Government, through the Dept of Innovation, Industry Science and Research (DIISR), has provided some funding over the next four years for an initiative to maximise the Australian content in major projects.
The Buy Australian at Home and Abroad (BAHA) initiative was introduced by federal Manufacturing Minister Kim Carr last year, to increase the participation of Australian suppliers in the work flowing from the strong growth of the resources sector.
It aims to link suppliers with project opportunities and thereby enhance Australian industry participation in these projects and, through that, industry capability.
A small but important part of this initiative focuses on the Australian Made, Australian Grown (AMAG) logo.
AMAG has been tasked with strengthening links between AMAG licensees and the Industry Capability Network (ICN), a network of state and federally funded bodies, which for nearly 30 years has been working with major project contractors to identify local businesses capable of being suppliers to those projects — a strategic approach to import replacement.
A critical component of this project is the ICN Gateway database, an online connection point for buyers and suppliers looking to build partnerships.
The ICN Gateway database enables suppliers to search projects and register their company’s interest with just a few easy steps.
Similarly, project managers and ICN consultants use the database when searching for suppliers for specific projects.
AMAG is encouraging all its licensees and other manufacturers of Australian-made products not already registered on this database to go to: www.gateway.icn.org.au and register.
This will be an important first step to building effective and potentially lucrative project partnerships, whether as a supplier of technologies and heavy industrial equipment or food products and everyday consumables.
In the current business environment, the BAHA is a very timely initiative if Australia is to maximise the returns available to it as a result of the high demand for our minerals — for the benefit for all Australians both now and in the future.
* Ian Harrison is Chief Executive of Australian Made, Australian Grown
Australian Made, Australian Grown Campaign
Ph: 1800 350 520
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