Securing Australia’s Competitive Manufacturing Future – Framework for Discussion


The purpose of this page [Document] is to provide a basis for a constructive, industry-lead, grass-roots, recommendations in response to the Government’s recent invitation for input on how to ‘secure the future of Australia’s manufacturing industry’. This discussion document draws on a shared passion for a great future for Australia and the desire for Australian businesses to operate in a fertile business environment. The insights also draw on a myriad of research and papers shared on the AMF Group recently that further support our thinking.


It is an imperative for Australia to build a sustainable, thriving economy based on our strengths and competitive advantages to allow us to become globally competitive and to take a leading role in the developed world in terms of future economic opportunities. New national wealth and job creation need to be key ingredients of the national industry development agenda. It is submitted that the key issues concerning for the future of the Australian economy and social prosperity can be summarized as follows.

Key factors contributing to the current situation:

  1. Why-2Declining manufacturing sector: Generally decreased attractiveness and competitiveness – further impacted by the demise of automotive sector ;
  2. Innovation Culture: Lack of innovation strategy to leverage and value-add to our natural resources;
  3. Business Environment: Inclement business climate: high cost of energy and finance; and counter-productive taxation policies;
  4. Competitiveness & Productivity: Declining national economic competitiveness of Australia (rank 21 out of 148 countries);
  5. Cross-Sector Collaboration: Weak connectivity and level of collaboration at the  Government-Industry-Universities-Research Institutions-Business interface;
  6. Skills & Training: Inadequate skills training system to meet evolving industry requirements;
  7. Trade Agreements: Disadvantageous trade agreements or lack of (including dumping and unfair pricing for Australia);
  8. Vision for the Country [“Brand Australia”]: Lack of vision to build synergies between complementing industries, e.g. food, tourism, digital and creative industries; etc;
  9. Immediate Crisis: Urgent need to re-design and re-employ talent and expertise from the declining automotive sector, in conjunction with advanced materials (including nanotechnology), design, quality, and other unique Australian advantages.
  10. The GOOD NEWS: We are still in the position of strength, compared to many other countries to allow us to take action and make some radical decisions. We have resources – natural and financial; talent –  that needs to be recognized and promoted; and we have examples of businesses succeeding individually in almost all industries – to create our own Australian Business Model.

WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE: needs a decisive manufacturing strategy and an action plan, based on an identified set of strategic priorities to build a diverse economy that creates synergies and leverage for all ‘producing’ industry sectors (i.e. agriculture and tourism).

These strategic priorities include the following:

  1. Identifying long-term strategic, competitive direction for Australia’s unique opportunities; and aggressively pursuing them with advanced manufacturing, science and infrastructure investment as its base – as the best path to sustainable growth and long-term wealth creation.
  2. Identifying initiatives to drive the value-add  in  the natural resources sectors (mining and energy production, agriculture, forestry, etc);
  3. Developing leadership in water management and associated technologies; and in renewable and alternative energy sources, energy storage and smart energy distribution systems; whilst also driving energy efficiency leadership across all industry and public sectors;
  4. Rapid adoption of new advanced manufacturing technologies (e.g. additive manufacturing, robotics etc) underpinning the ‘Industrial Revolution Gen 4’ which characterizes advanced manufacturing economies;
  5. Developing a Skills strategy and action plan, based on the national strategic industry direction – for progressive, but agile and targeted roll-out;
  6. Developing an Australian Business Model that supports business specialisation and excellence; based on quality and customisation and clear market needs orientation; and not on price and volume. This includes providing guidelines and incentives to implement such model (Refer to the German Model: Mittelstand Hidden Champions), allowing Australia to tap into available talent and turn ideas into game-changing, market-led innovations.
  7. This must be underpinned by improving management and leadership quality in Australia – providing guidelines and incentives and access to ‘learning from the best’.

Policy Priorities for a stronger, more balanced economy:

  1. Australian renewable energyEnergy reform – to support competitiveness of Australian competitiveness and productivity;
  2. Guidelines for innovation investment – beyond R&D – with innovative solutions for local access to capital;
  3. Skills strategy to build a smart nation – creating, attracting and retaining best leadership and technical skills and talent;
  4. Creating ‘value adding’ partnerships involving industry, business, government and research institutions which achieve new industry creation outcomes.
  5. Recasting analysis about the future of existing manufacturing industry sectors such as automotive from a focus on old business models to embracing new models which are underpinned by the rapidly evolving green tech and digital technology platforms;
  6. Creating a supportive business climate through: tax reform, flow of investment, de-regulation and a commitment fairer trade agreements (protecting our interests vs protectionism).


Following are proposed steps to be taken to secure the competitive future for Australian manufacturing and related industries and a sustainable Australian economy:

  1. Development of a long-term national advanced manufacturing plan for Australia which should include a comprehensive set of economic priorities and policy recommendations to create a more balanced and diversified economy. These priorities need to be formulated with commitment to agreed strategies and government and industry-led actions.
  2. The establishment of a new, innovatively-designed and more inclusive ‘Prime Minister’s Industry Advisory Council’ to assist the Government – including active involvement and support of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) ;
  3. An independent ‘Industry Champion’ should be appointed as a catalyst to connect all groups and stakeholders in strategic collaboration and to assist the Minister for Industry.

To ensure success of such initiative, transparent and wide communication of these strategic imperatives and direction is essential from the start. It must be communicated from the top, on all levels of Government and Business as a shared vision towards building a clear, compelling and respected ‘Brand Australia”.


Complete the FORM below: It is about YOUR constructive input and ideas for Action for the Government and Industry. Focus on WHAT you think needs to be done and HOW. Ideally, use bullet point statements with short narrative for clarity.

NOTE: Members of  the Australian Manufacturing Forum on LinkedIn – use the Forum to expand on your ideas – under the Discussion Thread: “Securing Australia’s Competitive Manufacturing Future”.

Securing Australia’s Manufacturing Future –

Industry Feedback & Input

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Jojo-2Thanks for dropping by! Make your voice count!

Margaret Manson
Chief Inspirator | InnoFuture
E: margaret.manson [@] innofuture [.] com [.] au
M: +61 407 66 11 30