The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) supports the findings of a poll published today in Fairfax Media newspapers reporting that 83 per cent of Australians believe we should be manufacturing more goods in Australia, but notes that Australians have thought this for decades.
“This is not new – Australians have been thinking this for many, many years. They know what politicians are only just waking up to – that manufacturing provides good, skilled jobs for Australians in both cities and the regions,” said AMWU National Secretary Paul Bastian.
“Australians support having our trains built here, our naval ships built here, and they support having an auto industry which we are going to see end in October. Australia has a vibrant economy but it won’t stay that way unless Governments support manufacturing.
“Advanced manufacturing of high technology components and renewable energy systems is just the start. What this country should be doing is utilising our highly educated and highly skilled workforce to drive technological development across a range of areas and create the jobs of the future,” Mr Bastian said.
“We have just won the campaign to maintain naval shipbuilding in Australia, and that will pay enormous dividends in the future with technology and skills transfer,” he said.
“There is enormous potential for companies that have been supplying the car industry to transition to the production of high technology components for a range of applications such as military vehicles and aviation parts.”
“Australia can’t afford to be left as a purely service economy just because the multinationals decide to export manufacturing jobs to low wage economies.”
Mr Bastian said it was inexcusable for State and Federal Governments to focus purely on price when awarding contracts, when Australia has under-utilised manufacturing facilities across the country.
“Contract prices need to be considered on a ‘whole of life’ basis – which includes the cost of maintenance but also takes into account the local, social benefits of awarding contracts locally, for example – training opportunities for young people, employment provisions, and regional development.
“The Federal Government should be driving a national “local first” policy on procurement – for example, for rail - that makes sure taxpayers get the best deal and that our economy gets a leg up.”
“We have been hearing politicians talking about promoting Australian manufacturing for too long. The time for talking is over. What workers, companies and the community wants now is action.”