The Federal Nationals in Government’s Backbench Policy Committee has released its Manufacturing 2035 plan. The plan outlines The Nationals’ vision for the manufacturing industry and a broad policy platform to help encourage industry growth.
The paper outlines a nine-point plan with the goal to double the employment in Australian manufacturing, to counter the trend of continuing employment stagnation in the industry. Employment in manufacturing has dropped from its peak employment of almost 1.2 million Australians in the 1990s, down to a new record low of fewer than 850,000.
NSW Nationals Senator Perin Davey recently toured the Hunter Valley, once a manufacturing powerhouse with opportunities to grow once more, and said boosting the Australian manufacturing sector should be a priority.
“Manufacturing or processing our quality raw materials here in Australia makes sense. It is a win for local business and a win for the regions that have the space to host new industries,” Senator Davey said.
“This paper builds on the Government’s Modern Manufacturing Strategy and highlights what more can be done to boost the sector.
“Place like Newcastle are perfect for a Regional Manufacturing Office with the Port of Newcastle providing key export infrastructure and access to the raw materials produced across the Hunter.”
Senator Matt Canavan, chair of the Nationals’ Backbench Policy Committee, said regional jobs were a big priority.
“We must take radical action to reverse the trend of fewer things being made in Australia,” Senator Canavan said.
“That means reinvesting in our natural energy resources like coal and gas, protecting Australian jobs from unfair overseas competition and giving greater preference to Australian made goods in government contracts.”
Other policies suggested in the plan include:
- Task the Anti-Dumping Commission to assess subsidies provided by foreign governments and taking countervailing action to protect Australian industry against such unfair competition,
- Provide tax concessions and low-cost finance to investments that will boost Australian manufacturing jobs,
- Introduce a Buy Australian Act that would give preference to Australian made goods in government contracts,
- Increase trade promotion and harmonising skills across the manufacturing sector,
- Establish an Office of Regional Manufacturing with offices in Gladstone and Newcastle to promote manufacturing opportunities in Regional Australia.
Senator Canavan explained the plan was developed after extensive consultations with Nationals MPs and their constituents.
“The Nationals have a proud record of backing Australian manufacturing,” Senator Canavan said.
“Over 30 per cent of Australians employed in manufacturing live outside the capital cities.
The Nationals are fighting for these workers and their hopes for a stronger Australian manufacturing industry. I want to thank all of my Nationals colleagues for contributing to this plan over the past year.
“The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the need for Australia to make things here again. Nationals backbench members are proposing this plan to help Australia recover from the pandemic and come out of it with a stronger industry able to confront the economic and security challenges in our region.
“Some of the ideas in this paper challenge longstanding commitments to free trade and the removal of industry protection. But with rising security challenges in our region, we must also recognise the priority to back Australian industrial development.”
The Nationals Backbench Committee has presented its report to the Nationals leadership.
“The Nationals in Government have made manufacturing a key priority and we hope this plan can build on the excellent work already being done by the government in this area,” Senator Canavan said.