Dow Chemical President and CEO Andrew Liveris has urged Prime Minister Tony Abbott to support Australian manufacturing by focusing on high value-add opportunities.
Speaking at Davos, Mr Liveris said Australia’s start-ups, small company, venture capital and university system is still far more centrally controlled.
“It needs to be far more agile and efficient and work with the appropriate people to figure out how Australia can be a provider of technology to the world,” said Mr Liveris, quoted in a report on The Australian.
“Australia is a developed country, it’s not going to have low wage rates, therefore its human capital has to be pointed to value-add and high-margin opportunities, much like Israel has done.”
Israel is considered a model for venture capital and technology advances, as the Western Asian country has become home to a huge number of successful start-ups.
Liveris, who is a staunch supporter of domestic gas reservation to protect local manufacturing, said policy should be put in place to ensure that Australia’s energy competitiveness was not lost amid the exporting of gas from east Australia.
“What Australia still does not have is a sound energy policy, and that hurts,” Mr Liveris said.
“To lose competitiveness in the energy sector in Australia while Australia is a large energy exporter is a conflict that has to be resolved.”
The export of gas from east Australia is expected to lead to a tripling of domestic gas prices. Liveris believes that some of the nation’s abundant energy should be reserved for value-added manufacturing and combined with high-margin, innovative value-adding.
“We need to look at how we take our abundant natural resources and value-add them appropriately, not across the board, but with sensible policy,” Mr Liveris said.
“Then we look at how we become a much more human-capital society.”