Advanced manufacturing is advancing Queensland

During October, the Palaszczuk government celebrated its “Month of Manufacturing”, highlighting the great things that our manufacturing firms are achieving all year. Cameron Dick, Queensland Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, shares the state’s success.

The industry is thriving in Queensland. We continue to be one of Australia’s leading manufacturing states because our businesses are innovative, adaptable, and eager to extend their reach and secure new markets.

As Queensland’s first Manufacturing Minister for many years, I’m proud of our government’s work in helping businesses transition to advanced manufacturing practices.

This is driven by our Advanced Manufacturing 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan – a framework to reshape and grow the sector in our state – and through initiatives like the successful $46 million Made in Queensland (MiQ) grants program, where we help businesses adopt cutting-edge equipment so they can expand and employ.

Queensland businesses are renowned for their market-leading products, manufacturing everything from bush tucker foods, motorsport vehicle parts, and robotic-painted coffins to mining industry equipment, craft beers, and more.

Increasingly, we’re seeing Queensland products reaching global markets, with our manufacturers exporting their high- quality products and innovations around the world.

As a government, our number one focus is creating jobs for Queenslanders. It’s a big reason why we’re so invested in manufacturing – because we know our investment will generate employment.

Manufacturing contributes around $20 billion to the economy annually and is a major employer across the state. About 30 per cent of our manufacturing occurs in regional areas.

We recognise, however, that many of our manufacturers are at different stages on their journey to advanced manufacturing. Some have already found great success transitioning to Industry 4.0, while others are still making formative steps towards a new manufacturing future.

To support this transformation to advanced manufacturing, our government is committed to ensuring our state’s manufacturing workforce have the skills and opportunities to thrive.

In July this year, I announced the Palaszczuk Government would be investing more than $7.7m over the next four years to establish Australia’s first Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Hub on Brisbane’s northside.

With additional investment from Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Urban Art Projects (UAP) and other partners, an $18m facility will emerge that will support and grow advanced manufacturing jobs right across Queensland.

The ARM Hub will enhance the adoption of robotics and autonomous systems by Queensland manufacturers. It will leverage Queensland’s existing capabilities in the research, manufacturing, and development of robotics capability and provide a real-life production environment.

The ARM Hub will be a place where our manufacturing workers can come to learn, upskill, create, and develop new skills by honing advanced techniques. It will also link closely to the government’s $30m regional manufacturing hubs in Cairns, Townsville, and Rockhampton.

UAP has told me that for every new robot they acquire, five additional jobs are created. That’s an incredible employment outcome and something we want to see replicated in more of our manufacturing businesses.

That’s why we’ll be making ARM Hub services available to businesses working in sectors as diverse as aerospace, biomedical, mining, equipment, technology, and services (METS), defence, rail manufacturing, and beef and food processing – because real progress is only made when opportunity is available to everyone.

Our government sees the ARM Hub as an anchor point to truly establish Queensland as a world- leader when it comes to robotics and automation in manufacturing.

Meanwhile, around 40 kilometres south-west, another facility is being built that’s going to help our state reach its full manufacturing potential – Rheinmetall Defence Australia’s $170m Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence (MILVEHCOE).

Last year Queensland won a battle of the states when we secured the Australian Army’s $5.2b LAND 400 Phase 2 project.

The deal will see 186 Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles and 12 modules built in Redbank, Ipswich, from early 2021, with around 450 Queensland jobs expected to be supported by this defence manufacturing work.

The Palaszczuk Government is also supporting Rheinmetall’s push to secure Phase 3 of LAND 400, which would bring $10-15b of additional advanced manufacturing work to Queensland and further shore up our sector.

Rheinmetall Defence Australia has been shortlisted for the tender and invited to progress through to the next round of evaluation. If they’re successful, up to 400 Lynx KF41 infantry fighting vehicles will be manufactured at the MILVEHCOE, creating more local manufacturing jobs.

The recent progress Queensland has made in the defence space has only been possible because we’ve set the right policies and programs in place.

This is directed by the Queensland Defence Industries 10- Year Roadmap and Action Plan and promoted through initiatives like Defence Jobs Queensland.

We are also keen to replicate success in another advanced manufacturing sector, space, which Deloitte estimates could be worth $1.7b to the Queensland economy and create 6,000 local jobs by 2036.

Currently those figures sit at around $760m and 2,000 jobs respectively, however, our state
is naturally blessed with many elements advantageous to the ongoing space race, including our long coastline, large interior and our proximity to the equator.

More importantly, Queensland is now home to more than 50 businesses with capabilities valuable to the space sector, from earth observation and data analytics to manufacturing, robotics, and automation.

When it comes to advanced manufacturing in Queensland, the opportunity is huge, it’s real, and it’s there for our taking.

Because the sun always rises in the Sunshine State, and our brightest days still lie ahead of us.