Death knell for Australian manufacturing

The Abbott Government’s Commission of Audit recommendations would sound the death toll for Australian manufacturing, sending thousands of Australian jobs offshore, Shadow Industry Minister Senator Kim Carr warned today.

“These proposals would undermine our capacity to export goods and services, and replace it with a blueprint to export jobs,” Senator Carr said. 

“Industry programs are about building and sustaining our capabilities, but if the Abbott Government is foolish enough to abolish them, it could spell the end of manufacturing in this country as we know it.  

“While the rest of the developed world looks to a high-tech, high-wage advanced manufacturing future, moves to cut industry and manufacturing programs would lead to Australia missing out on an advanced manufacturing future and mass closures and unemployment.

“And any tinkering with funding for 22 existing industry assistance programs, as proposed, is short-sighted in the extreme.

“The question the Abbott Government now has to take to the Federal Budget is: ‘Do we want a high-wage knowledge economy, or a Third World low-wage economy?’ ”

The Commission advocates:

  • Drastically cutting or abolishing all forms of industry assistance, including the Automotive Transformation Scheme and the Automotive New Markets Program, which would take away support for supply chain firms to diversify and see the auto industry closing not in 2017, but this year
  • Abolishing Innovation Investment Funds, which would severely damage the ability of Australian businesses to invest and grow
  • Effectively dismantling the $1 billion Plan for Australian Jobs, including the Innovation Partnerships, which would break crucial links between researchers, innovators and industry
  • Abolishing Enterprise Connect and Commercialisation Australia, cutting support services for business, especially SMEs
  • Abolishing the Australian Industry Participation Plans that provide opportunities for Australian companies to bid for major projects, costing up to $6.4 billion of business for Australian industry

“The abolition of industry advisory committees and boards is truly retrograde, dispensing with any advice that might challenge the Abbott Government’s fantasies about the way the world works,” Senator Carr said. 

“Similarly, the gutting of Austrade and abolition of the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation would make it even harder for Australian industry to access new markets and export-led growth

“Programs such as Enterprise Connect and Commercialisation Australia, and all the industry programs that are now under threat, are critical to ensuring that our industries can compete in the 21st century.

“In short, the report is a strategy for shutdowns and sending Australian jobs offshore. It puts jobs and our future prosperity on the chopping block.”

FRIDAY, 2 MAY 2014 

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