Samantha Read, the CEO of Australia’s Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association (PACIA), has welcomed the ambitious growth agenda agreed at the G20 in Brisbane, saying the association is looking forward to the opportunity of working together with the Australian Government to help reach these targets.
“The Australian chemistry industry, Australia’s second largest manufacturing sector, will play a vital role in this growth agenda. The innovative application of science in industry is the foundation of a smart economy, and this will be key to Australia building comparative advantage,” Ms Read said.
“The Report ‘STEM: Australia’s Future’, released in September by Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb, states that globally, 75% of the fastest growing occupations require science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills. The business of chemistry creates highly skilled jobs, directly employing over 60,000 people in Australia. Professor Chubb’s Report also states that scientific and technological advances have produced roughly half of all US economic growth in the last 50 years.”
She said the Australian chemistry industry’s Strategic Roadmap, which was launched last year following an extensive independent foresighting research conducted by CSIRO, showed that the industry was proactive in setting a strategic agenda to drive growth and competitiveness.
“For example, the dual factors of global population growth and an ageing population are driving massive demand for health and wellbeing products. Chemistry enables products that we rely on every day, from targeted medicines to oxygen permeable contact lenses. Diabetics can test their blood sugar levels with a simple chemical test. Medical devices such as incubators for premature babies, pacemakers and blood bags save lives,” Ms Read stated.
“When we talk about ‘advanced manufacturing’, these are the kind of technologies that are valued for advancing our everyday lives. The Australian chemistry industry plays a crucial role in meeting the needs of an expanding world today and in providing solutions to the challenges of the future.”
Mrs Read also welcomed the focus on collaboration outlined in Ambition 4 of the Federal Government’s Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda, which proposes the development of Industry Growth Centres aimed at building stronger interconnections between research, industry and supply chains.
“The Australian chemistry industry plays a critical enabling role, supplying inputs to 109 of Australia’s 111 industries. We see that the industry can make a significant contribution through collaboration with all five Growth Centres including food and agribusiness; mining equipment, technology and services; oil, gas and energy resources; medical technologies and pharmaceuticals; and advanced manufacturing, because the industry plays a key role in each of these value chains,” she said.
“There are extremely significant and exciting opportunities that the industry is ready to grasp. We must stay focused on the big picture and continue the work to remove barriers to growth, as set out in the industry’s Strategic Roadmap.”
Mrs Read further added that market-based reforms of Australia’s gas markets through the Government’s Energy White Paper process and State-based development are a crucial part of the bigger picture, as gas is critical for chemical feedstocks and for process energy throughout Australian manufacturing, commerce and communities, playing a vital role in Australia’s robust, diverse and competitive future.
“We look forward to the continued work with federal, state and territory governments to ensure that the global drive for growth is backed by strong domestic industry strategy and policy development,” Ms Read said.