Australians want more homegrown manufacturing despite elite opinions

83 per cent of Australians believe that the country is too reliant on foreign imports, according to a new survey. 

The Political Persona Project, a new project by the Dutch research enterprise, Kieskompas, revealed that manufacturing was the issue respondents most agreed on.

In 1970, manufacturing represented 25 per cent of the workforce. Manufacturing now accounts for only 1 in every 13 workers. 

The survey shows that high-income earners and university graduates were the most likely to disagree with the statement that “we rely too heavily on foreign imports and should manufacture more in Australia.”

However, people over 65 years and old were the most likely to support the statement – at 90 per cent. Of those who live in regional areas, nearly 90 per cent agreed compared to 79 per cent in cities.

In response to the survey, economist Saul Eslake said that there was a “manufacturing fetishism” in Australia but there was no reason to think that manufacturing was any more valuable than any other activity. 

“While most Australians appear to believe it would be a good thing if more Australians worked in manufacturing, there doesn’t appear to be a strong desire among Australians for their own children to work in factory jobs,” he said.

However, not all economists oppose supporting manufacturing. Australia Institute, Jim Stanford said manufacturing sector remains strategically important and that Australia risks paying a long-term price if the decline continues.

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