Top Boeing exec is optimistic about Australia’s manufacturing future


Boeing Australia and South Pacific president Ian Thomas has predicted a solid future for manufacturing in Australia as fresh opportunities give the country a chance to compete and succeed in the Asian century.

Image courtesy of [koko-tewan] /
Image courtesy of [koko-tewan] /
 The Australian reports Mr. Thomas as saying Australia is well placed to cater to the growing needs of the region where there is a rising new middle class composed of about 3 billion people, and wealth creation is a huge, sustained activity.

Speaking at the Sir Charles Kingsford Smith memorial lecture in Sydney on Wednesday night, the Boeing executive said Australia would benefit “through the provision of natural resources as industrialisation and urbanisation continue”.

“And certainly through agriculture and service industries — education, tourism, banking and insurance — where Australia has natural or highly developed competitive advantages,” Mr. Thomas said.

“But manufacturing holds great promise as well in aerospace, food processing, medical devices, mining technology, robotics and unmanned systems, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, and clean technology.”

In his talk Mr. Thomas focused on clean technology as an area where Australia could gain advantage.

“This trend toward long-term efficiency in energy consumption and clean manufacturing is vitally important to ensure future competitiveness in a carbon-constrained world,” he said.

“Here too, Australia seems well placed to compete and win.”

Mr. Thomas emphasized the importance of partnership and of innovation in order to remain competitive and produce high-value, high-tech products even in the midst of challenging economic circumstances such as the high Australian dollar.

However he warned against too much dependence on governments, and instead urged the industry to increase its own competitiveness.

“In the manufacturing sector this means industry, workforces, the research community and governments all working together toward a common goal of competitiveness,” he said.

Australia’s Boeing operation is the biggest outside the US, with 3400 staff in 27 locations. The company generates more than a billion dollars in onshore revenues with almost $14bn of sales in the past four years, according the The Australian report.