Kimberley-Clark and GE execs highlight need for Australian innovation

Tony MacMahon, Kimberley-Clark’s CFO for Australia and New Zealand, has said that innovation – and not government subsidies – was the key to Australian manufacturers performing well.

“The only way to compete against cheap imports into the Australian market is to keep coming out with new premium products and continually improve efficiency in the supply chain,” MacMahon told The Australian Financial Review.

Kimberley-Clark, a maker of personal care products, is preparing to manufacture products including its Pull-Ups, Little Swimmers and Dry Night offerings in Australia.

The American company will unveil a new $28 million machine at its Ingleburn facility of February 17. It has only just become viable to produce these products here.

Meanwhile, GE’s Australia and New Zealand CEO has said that Australian businesses should be capitalising on the comparatively strong local economy and investing in innovation.

"This is a terrific time for us to distance ourselves because we don't have the issues that other countries are dealing with at the moment," Sargent told The Australian.

"We are a high-cost, high-value country but by investing in innovation, we can turn that into our advantage by creating new models, processes and technologies that will boost productivity and drive Australia's economic growth for the long-term," he said, echoing Macmahon’s point that manufacturers here find it difficult to compete on cost and should look to innovation instead.

Earlier this month, GE’s Innovation Barometer placed Australia 13th out of 30 countries. The result was based on a survey of 2,800 business executives from 22 countries.

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