Abbott government gives Manufacturing Leaders Group the chop

The former government’s Manufacturing Leaders Group has been abolished.

The Australian reported over the weekend that the group – which comprised senior members of the business, union and research communities – was seen as unnecessary by federal industry minister Ian Macfarlane.

Macfarlane said the former government’s “approach to industry was all about ­window-dressing and setting up union-dominated groups that rarely, if ever, met”.

The Leaders Group was formed to guide the implementation of the 2012 Prime Minister’s taskforce’s report’s recommendations.

“Its role is to provide strategic advice to government on ways to best take advantage of opportunities in Asia and other markets, as well as shape productivity growth,” former industry minister Greg Combet wrote in pre-election a comment piece for Manufacturers’ Monthly last year.

Led by Boeing’s Dr Ian Thomasit included executives from companies such as Textor, BASF and Thales Australia, as well as three members from the research community and six union leaders.

The ACTU’s Dale Oliver, the group’s deputy chair, said scrapping the group was “despicable” and came at the “worst possible time” for the industry.

“By turning their back on manufacturing and innovation, the Abbott government is pulling the plug — essentially, this is a skills drain,” said Oliver.