The Prime Minister’s Taskforce on Manufacturing held its first meeting in Canberra today.
Leaders from the manufacturing sector, unions and the research sector joined the Prime Minister, the Treasurer, the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research and the Ministers for Finance and Deregulation; Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations; Trade; and Defence Materiel to affirm the importance of the manufacturing sector to the economy, acknowledging that it employs nearly one million Australians and generates over 34 per cent of Australia’s merchandise export income.
The Taskforce agreed its primary purpose is to secure a strong future for Australian manufacturing and its workforce.
Members agreed to develop a shared vision and to prepare advice to Government by June 2012. To do this, members agreed a workplan that will focus on:
- The short term and long-term competitiveness of the Australian manufacturing sector;
- An analysis of the pressures and possible adjustments facing the sector resulting from the influence of the Australian dollar and the international economy;
- Improved access to capital, markets, research and innovation, and skills to underpin a more competitive and successful manufacturing sector;
- Maximising opportunities for Australian manufacturers resulting from the rise of Asia;
- Addressing regulatory and other barriers to the growth of the manufacturing sector;
- Building stronger partnerships between SMEs, larger companies, research partners and governments to underpin a more research and innovation focussed manufacturing sector; and
- The development of a roadmap outlining a shared vision and direction for Australian manufacturing over the next decade.
Members received an update on local content and participation measures announced at the recent Future Jobs Forum and outcomes from the recent meeting of the Resources Sector Supplier Advisory Forum, chaired by Peter Beattie.
The next meeting, in early 2012, will consider the results of targeted consultations with the manufacturing sector, work on the draft roadmap for manufacturing and a paper on market opportunities in the Asian economy as part of the White Paper on Australia in the Asian Century process.
Members agreed on the need to better leverage and co-ordinate existing Commonwealth and state government policies and programs; and the importance of maximising opportunities from Commonwealth procurement, including in the defence sector.
The Taskforce acknowledged the key role of science and technology in successful Australian firms. Members agreed on the importance of building closer linkages and collaboration between industry and the research community, and developing better access for Australian business to global supply chains.
Members noted that current economic conditions are challenging for many manufacturers, particularly the effect of the high Australian dollar and competition for skills – although the impacts vary across the sector. The Taskforce agreed to develop further work on potential adjustments facing Australian manufacturing and pathways for displaced manufacturing workers.
The Taskforce stressed the importance of manufacturers and the sector being better able to move up the value chain and the importance of management and workforce skills, technology and innovation to the future of Australian manufacturing.
Innovation is a vital ingredient in adapting to a high Australian dollar and more intense global market competition. Shared knowledge, investment in skills, stronger industry research collaborations and networks are necessary to further underpin a vibrant manufacturing sector ready to take advantage of new opportunities that are emerging. Investments in clean energy, national broadband, skills and tertiary education are key pillars that will assist Australian manufacturers move up the value chain.
A website has been established containing public information about the Committee and its work which can be found at www.innovation.gov.au/manufacturingtaskforce.
A printable version of the Communiqué [PDF 23 KB] is available.