Manufacturing will fuel the recovery but we are missing one obvious piece.



Australia has always been the birthplace of manufacturing. Fifty years ago Australia made everything from washing machines and refrigerators to cars and steel.

Fast forward to today, Australia ranks last in manufacturing self-sufficiency among all OECD countries.

Australians consume $ 565 billion in manufactured goods each year, but we only produce $ 380 billion, according to a study by Jim Stanford of the Center for Future Work at the Australia Institute.

In recent years, Australia has become more dependent on international manufacturers, compromising our ability to be a self-sufficient country.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how important this is. We cannot place our hopes in global supply chains.

Australians want us to be a nation that makes things. To do this, we must build on our strengths. We are a country rich in natural resources, which I think the government should do more to take advantage of.

Australia is the world’s second largest producer of aluminum. We are one of the few countries in the world to have bauxite mining, alumina refining, aluminum smelting and aluminum extrusion industries.

Exports from our aluminum industry add approximately $ 13 billion to the economy each year. From Gove in the Northern Territory to Smithfield in New South Wales, aluminum manufacturers across the country have created 15,000 direct jobs and are creating jobs for another 60,000 families.

Labor believes this sector should have been featured prominently in the government’s 2019 essential minerals strategy.

Of course, we have to invest in innovation. But that needs to be balanced with support for the areas in which we are already leading.

Australia is currently out of step with the rest of the world and behind the ball eight on the path to a carbon-free future. The World Bank’s Minerals for Climate Action report recognizes aluminum as the second most used material for decarbonization.

According to the World Bank: “Aluminum is used in a wide range of technologies, which makes it less sensitive to changes in technological deployment, and it has the highest absolute demand levels of any of the minerals in this analysis.”

We have resources that will be in great demand in the future. We have the natural resources that go into the products that will drive the future.

Now we need the government’s commitment to live up to it. A Labor government would keep that pledge.

Ed Husic is the shadow Minister of Industry and Innovation and Federal Fellow of Chifley.



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