Industry policy – industrialisation imperatives

As Australian manufacturers return to work after the Christmas/New Year break, some are no doubt reflecting on the Turnbull government's new promise of Australia becoming the “big ideas” nation.

Yes, there is no doubt that the Government has breathed new life into the national innovation agenda and that start-ups will start to flourish as 2016 unfolds. But is focus being applied to ensure that, beyond any commercialisation outcomes, industrialisation imperatives will emerge? Whilst Coalition governments have always steered away from “picking winners”, current government policy is at least focussed on directing limited resources to perceived areas of “industry capability” through the announced “growth centres” approach, a strategy influenced through representations made after the last election by the Business Council of Australia.

Through a range of strategies such as Action Agendas and the like, Coalition governments have traditionally favoured an “industry-led”, government-supported strategy. In the minds of policy makers, “industry” seems to be this amorphous mass of market-driven manufacturing companies which can be expected to take the lead and to deliver the desired outcomes for the Government.   Arguably in the past, emerging from this “industry grouping” would emerge prominent business leaders, who could reasonably be labelled as “industrialists”, and who ran larger, more often than not private, companies which saw it as in their interest to grow secondary industries in Australia.  

So the question remains: who in “industry” is to lead the charge to identify and select those new, “market facing” opportunities which will lead to the creation of new industries for Australia and the “jobs for our grandchildren”? In other economies, industry leaders have worked hard to gain the support of their national governments to co-invest in a basket of emerging industry sectors, and to ensure that R&D activity is focussed on those sectors, in the knowledge that a diversified co-investment strategy is a winning approach that can lead to new industry creation.

During 2015, a new “Manufacturing on the Move” (MotM) professional networking group was launched as a collegiate-managed forum on a LinkedIn platform, generating networking, discussion and broader engagement amongst those individuals passionately committed to a viable future for Australian high-value manufacturing and actions resulting to implement collective views and goals.

In 2016 and beyond, it is proposed to develop this group further in broader advocacy of industrialisation imperatives, collaborative facilitation, policy shaping and outreach activities from an expanding membership base of forum participants. We aim to positively influence industry and thought leaders, decision makers – and especially Australian Parliaments – in shaping and implementing policy settings that support delivery of value-add benefits to the broader economy by a highly competitive manufacturing sector.

Currently a Co-moderator of the LinkedIn 'Manufacturing on the Move' network, Angus M Robinson has spent the past 20 years working in industry development roles at The Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering and the Australian Technology Park, and as the former CEO of the Australian Electrical & Electronic Manufacturers’ Association .


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