The overwhelming majority of Australians believe the country should be manufacturing more goods, a recent poll has found.
The poll, published in Fairfax Media newspapers, revealed that 83% of Australians share this opinion which has been prevalent in the country for decades.
Commenting on the findings, AMWU National Secretary Paul Bastian said:
“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,” Mr Bastian said.
“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.”
He said Australia should be utilising its highly educated and highly skilled workforce to drive technological development across a range of areas and create the jobs of the future.
“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,” Mr Bastian continued.
“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.”
He also criticized the State and Federal Governments for focusing ‘purely on price’ when awarding contracts at a time 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,” Mr Bastian added.
“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.”