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The Forum > Article Comments > Securing the future of Australian manufacturing > Comments

Securing the future of Australian manufacturing : Comments

By Kim Carr, published 10/4/2008

Kim Carr lays out his plans for the future of Australian manufacturing.

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It is also the governments responsibility to keep the unions under control and not cave in to their demands to inhibit or eliminate: 1)productivity enhancements, 2) elimination of redundant or unnecessary jobs, 3) the implementation of new higher productive manufacturing processes, 4)competition through pattern bargaining.

Employers must be given latitude to build and reinvent their businesses to address their competitors. They do not need to be hobbled by the ball and chain of archaic union workplace demands codified into state and national law.
Posted by Bruce, Thursday, 10 April 2008 12:27:11 PM
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Exploring the 'glue' within Australian society so as to create Micro as well as Macro opportunities from the bottom-up could help us ALL. I believe there could be a view to 'mini' manufacturing frameworks as well as the bigger manufacturing frameworks.

Australia historically has constantly lost itself in manufacturing because we’ve been too rigid. Manufacturing is mostly always visualised to mean BIG + Expensive instead of many well-planned, smart and thrifty.

A modern new look at manufacturing could reveal potential productive openings for many different industries, in new ways that help serve humanity better, by finding more inclusive ways that help us transcend in targeting the greater needs of a ever changing labour force. Something like blending the old with the new. Adam Smith (many needing ever-changing different degrees of low skilled work) with Alvin Toffler (workstation clusters in the home-garden).

Unleashing Australia's national innovation potential is key.

"More importantly, it will suggest ways to increase and strengthen those connections. It's especially important that we bring Australian industry into the picture - not just as a consumer, but as a producer of new ideas. "

In fact spending on technology may mean re-introducing Human Labour and hence Human Capital and designing a more savy-use for on-going discoveries, through technology.

Instead of displacing humanity we might enhance it because with the re-introduction of human labour and human capital the constant up-grade cost of hard-ware (and its associated cycle-of-waste) may supercool by replacing the need for so much of it.

What is BALANCE?

If we could find ourselves being less fickle we may instead find ourselves with meanfulness through innovative designs. Strategies that help both ways in building economic growth, through authentically geared industries.

This approach could help shift other dubious demands and help us resolve issues in climate change, by adding at the same time new value to a renewal of productive growth in regional communities.
Posted by miacat, Thursday, 10 April 2008 10:08:47 PM
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Dear Kim.... you can have all the reviews under the sun, but they will all arrive at the same conclusion.

1/ UNLESS we decide that we WILL be competitive in global market, using the same successful strategies as our competitors (but with a more human face and heart) we will be relegated to a 'remote mine which will be discarded like an old rag once our resources are used up"

2/ CHERISHED VALUES and beliefs about industrial justice and fairness must be made FLEXIBLE and suitable for a competitive, dog eat dog world.

I believe this must recognize:

a) We have abundant resources.
b) We have the same population as Taiwan approx.
c) If THEY can reach global markets with price competitive value added goods.. why can we not? (specially when WE have the raw materials, not they)
d)If we think we can 'out-think/out-innovate' the Chinese from our population base, we are dreaming. If we think they will not simply 'copy' any innovation we come up with, again..we dream.

RULES.. if we, as team "A" try to play Aussie rules using Rugby Union rules with Team "B".. who are adhering to correct Aussie rules 'rules'...and where the Referee is controlling the game based on Aussie Rules rules.... then of course, we, Team "A" is going to lose badly.

INNOVATION CHAIN... We have to look at things in a 'Start2finish' approach.


Perhaps some helpful ideas would be.

-APPROVALS....Dedicated sub groups who are strictly focused on the approvals aspects of most major market target countries. They can then liase with manufacturers from a specialized knowledge base to ensure manufactured products are ready4market.

-MARKETING....Others who specialize in market information about particular countries.

-MANUFACTURING.. must be flexible. High tech/automated/huge volumes.

Lets not be like King Hezekiah, who, when told by Isaiah the prophet "The Babylonians are coming, but not in your lifetime" said "This news is good"(because he personally didn't have to face them)
Posted by BOAZ_David, Friday, 11 April 2008 6:18:16 AM
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Australian industry has suffered from the second class status of the companies and their directors.

Even in the 1970s many Australian manufacturing companies operated to enhance the bottom line of their overseas parent so it was absolutely deadly to operate the Australian business profitably,

In the 1950s and 1960s when high school students were streamed,
- the top stream was educated for university entrance into professions like law, medicine, engineering,
- the next stream was trained for commerce
- the next stream was waiting for apprenticeships into the trades
and the bottom stream wasn't expected to amount to much

Currently Australian firms make more money or hide profit more effectively if they can put a national border between the producer and the consumer so any review of Australian manufacturing should consider whether Australian industry might be better served by a tax on turnover rather than tax on net profit
Posted by billie, Friday, 11 April 2008 9:40:42 AM
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The article avoids discussion of what should be the blindingly obvious issue in manufacturing, that is, the disparity between incomes that working Australians had been accustomed to and the incomes of workers in the slave-wage economies with which they are now forced to compete. This situation has been exacerbated by the destruction of livelihoods of Third Word peasants who now inhabitant slums on the outskirts of sprawling metropolises who comprise a pool of surplus workers who are desperate enough to work for a pittance (See Mike Davies "Planet of Slums" "Closing our borders can't mean turning our backs" at

In these circumstances, the hope that Australia can ever profitably manufacture any products other than a few specialised niche or boutique products, unless Australian workers are prepared to work for Third World wage levels, is a pipe dream.

It was a reckless and irresponsible for tariffs to be removed in the way they were. As even a fool could have anticipated, this led to the wholesale export of Australia's manufacturing sector to countries like China, Malaysia and Vietnam. If objections to this had not been so stridently shouted down in previous decades by a chorus of economists who assured us, against what our own intuition and common sense should have told us, that they knew what they were doing and that they had our best interests at heart, this would never have been tolerated.

Between the First and Second World Wars, Australia carefully built its manufacturing sector to become one of the World's most advanced industrial economies (See Andrew Ross "Armed and Ready - The Industrial Development and Defence of Australia 1900-1945" Since then our proud achievement has been thrown away by our Governments doing the bidding of the growth lobby who preferred the easier, but ultimately unsustainable path to wealth through land speculation and population growth (See Sheila Newman's 2002 Master's thesis at

Australia has now become effectively a third world country dependant upon the accelerating rate of mineral extraction and the sale of real estate.
Posted by daggett, Friday, 11 April 2008 10:56:59 AM
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Well said Daggett. Clearly an Aussie of knowledge, integrity and patriotism.

Contrary to the fevered beliefs of industrial and investment ideologues, Australia does not have to compete on the global market. In fact, the only reason we need to export at all is to cover our imports; and we do not actually need to import anything other than lubricating greases and oils. (News in Tassie may prove even these can be Australia-produced).

Australia is potentially self-sustaining and we export and import to make elites rich, not because this is intrinsically required in terms of text book economics.

While it is true that we import one third of our petrol, we can always develop unilateral trade with Venezuela, or use alternative fuels and transport systems, and eliminate the fuel barrel we are so treacherously screwed over. With more use of rail and public transport systems alone, half of that requirement would be negated. The bonus here is that we could then dump the Oil Price Parity Agreement, which forces us to pay international prices for Aussie oil. Eliminate tax as well and we would be paying 12 cents a litre at the bowser. Imagine how competitive that would make industry and commerce. Then there could be taxes on productivity rather than on overheads.

The cold truth is that, if we were to restore tariffs, and extend these to service and IT industries, our manufacturing sector would expand at least 50% over three years,and our family farms would be back in the black. Moreover, the resultant boost to the rural and regional economy would see a return of the one million citizens who were earlier forced into coastal cities for jobs. This boomerang migration would instantly relieve demand for city water and housing, and would generate regional council wealth, thus terminating the hated and undemocratic council amalgamations.

Finally, reinvigoration of farming and manufacturing will rapidly absorb the 21% unemployment currently blighting Australia. And for those in ideological denial over this status, just trot down the street and ask your local Job Network personnel.

Now, what arguments can be leveled against these proposals?
Posted by Tony Ryan oziz4oz, Friday, 11 April 2008 2:14:06 PM
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