Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews has mentioned in an interview with a radio station that the government will be strengthening their investment towards the manufacturing sector and giving it more attention as part of the pandemic response.
The COVID-19 crisis has brought renewed vigour to the calls to support Australian made products. The federal and state governments have been supportive of these with Australian manufacturers like Detmold and Grey Innovation responding by producing additional personal protective equipment (PPEs).
Her comments come in the wake of a shortage of a number of essential goods which Australia has been traditionally reliant on like the PPEs. She mentioned that supply chains need to be examined closely to help out the targeted local manufacturing base in addition to saying that it is not sustainable for the country to rely on foreign supply chains for these products.
“I think what the coronavirus has proven to us is that it’s wrong for us to be totally reliant… on supply chains that come from overseas.
“The issue has been, in some cases getting access to the input materials that they need – so that’s a problem and we need to make sure that we address that as well as making sure that we don’t just retain a strong manufacturing sector – but build it.”
Andrews was mindful of the fact that in terms of cost, it would be hard to compete against overseas products, hence there is a need to play to the strengths that the local manufacturing markets are capable of. This is because of the access to raw materials and Australia’s high wage economy will create significant hurdles for the industry in this respect.
Following discussions with the local manufacturing sector last year, she said that “we have to start looking at what our niche areas are, where we have demonstrated capability, where we can build on that.”
Locally produced pharmaceuticals, as an example, was as important to produce in Australia because having ample stock is important.
“We need to work with our pharmaceutical sector to see how they can pivot and how they can start producing different medicines, different pharmaceuticals if need be,” said Andrews.