Now more than ever the Federal Government and consumers should warmly embrace the Australian Made, Australian Grown (AMAG) Campaign to help support local business.
In an exclusive interview with Industry Update, AMAG CEO Ian Harrison says the Government should be doing more to help local business to brand their products as “Australian.”
Mr Harrison says manufacturers are facing serious challenges in coming months and are under increasing pressure to survive.
The steadily rising Australian dollar has had a devastating affect on some industry sectors – particularly manufacturing and food and beverage suppliers.
“The Government should recognise that industry is under a lot more pressure than ever
before,” says Mr Harrison. “The market is pretty tough at the moment for local producers.
“Most sectors are in for a tough time – especially exporters.”
Consumers – whether businesses or individuals – should support local industry by buying Australian made.
“This is the time for shoppers to make the difference – to resist the temptation to buy cheaper imports,” Mr Harrison says.
“They should realise that short term gains can lead to long term pain for our manufacturers and that will mean jobs.”
Mr Harrison says if the Australian dollar continues its meteoric rise against the greenback, it will have a major impact on jobs and, in time, weaken Australia’s skills crisis.
“Australian industries will have no option but to invest off-shore,” he says.
In this economic climate it is vital for consumers to carefully consider their purchases.
“With more cheap exports on the shelves it is tempting to choose overseas products,” Mr Harrison says.
“But every time we select a cheaper overseas product it has an impact on local producers.
“This could ultimately have a devastating impact on the overall structure of our economy and local industry.”
“Just two years ago the Australian dollar was trading around the 60c mark against its US counterpart. In May it was buying US$1.10.
“This will exacerbate the existing problems facing Australian businesses,” Mr Harrison says.
Mr Harrison says now is the time for the Federal Government to provide “targeted” assistance to exporters.
Manufacturers are in urgent need of assistance.
In particular, the Government should provide more assistance to Australian companies who promote their products and services at overseas trade shows, Mr Harrison says.
“It is time to provide resources that will promote the use of the Australian Made logo as Australia’s global country of origin symbol and resources to assist with ensuring compliance.”
Mr Harrison, the head of AMAG since 2004, says the Government should provide sufficient resources to promote the AMAG logo globally.
Australian products and produce should be branded Australian so that consumers can more easily make a choice – whether they are in New York or Brisbane.
Mr Harrison says the Federal Government should be very careful not to introduce policies that will exacerbate an already delicate situation.
“They must resist policies that could have an adverse affect on manufacturers,” he says.
“One obvious issue at the moment is the Carbon Tax. Now is not the time for Australia to be leading the charge.
“It is time to put any plans for a Carbon Tax firmly in the drawer,” says Mr Harrison.
“We should be following other countries when they move on this issue,” he says.
“Australia should not be blindly leading the way in this business climate that is far too dangerous.”
Mr Harrison says Australia can’t be reliant solely on the minerals and energy sector.
“We need to maintain a vibrant and innovative manufacturing sector to create wealth, generate exports and promote the jobs and skill training opportunities so important to our society.” “Allowing the sector to be decimated by a surging Australian dollar would be a big political mistake with harsh repercussions for the future structure of the economy and the society that lives off the economy,” Mr Harrison says.
AMAG will soon launch a new television advertising campaign to reinforce the Buy Australian message.