THE view that manufacturing in Australia is in terminal decline is ‘just a furphy’ according to Federal Industry Minister Kim Carr.
Speaking at the Manufacturing Futures Conference in Melbourne yesterday, Senator Carr mounted a spirited defence of the manufacturing sector, stressing the need to focus on ‘positives’ such as a 4.6% increase in production during 2007-08 and employment growth.
“Despite the factory closures and job losses of recent months, manufacturing employment has increased by 24,300 since last November.
“This employment and output growth gives me great confidence in the future of manufacturing.
“We can’t allow the furphy that manufacturing is in terminal decline to gain ground,” he said.
In a year industry would rather forget, 2008 has already seen a wave of job losses and plant closures particularly in the automotive sector, with high petrol prices and a buoyant Australia dollar applying pressure to an already volatile industry.
However Senator Carr stressed that industry should not be ‘daunted’ by these challenges but instead focus on ‘greening the future’.
“Now it’s time for a new car plan.
“Today’s car industry is radically different from the car industry of twenty-five years ago — more innovative, more productive, more outward-looking and more competitive. It is no stranger to change.
“Committing to a low-carbon future now will accelerate innovation and give us a head-start in developing climate change solutions — including green cars — that we can use at home and sell to the world.
“This means rethinking our terms of engagement with the global production system.
“It means rethinking how vehicle producers, component companies, research and training institutions, and unions can work together to strengthen the industry as a whole.
“The industry can only grow stronger if it grows together.”