Macfarlane welcomes industry report

Minister for Industry Ian Macfarlane welcomed the inaugural
Australian Industry Report 2014, which provides a snapshot of the changing face
of industry.

As the AFR notes, in October the Government released its Industry
Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda. It identified five sectors in which
Australia had a comparative advantage – food and agribusiness; mining services;
oil, gas and energy resources; advanced manufacturing; and medical technologies
and pharmaceuticals.

Among other things, the Australian Industry Report 2014,
released by the Department of Industry assesses the likely contribution of these
five sectors to future growth.

It was intended to sit between the macro vision provided by
the work of the Reserve Bank and the more focused work of the Productivity
Commission.

“This ground-breaking report from the Chief Economist in the
Department of Industry reinforces that Australia is in the box seat to grasp
new economic opportunities as industry continues its transition to higher
value-added manufacturing and professional services, so long as we recognise
the changes that are occurring and act to capitalise on them,” Macfarlane said
in a statement.

He added, “The report also provides further evidence that
Australia is now entering a third wave of economic development, based around
higher value-added manufacturing, niche product development and growth in
professional services.

“The resources sector continues to be a vital economic
contributor, but we can’t continue to rely on it to do all of the heavy lifting
as our economy undergoes further transition.

According to the report, at present the five sectors
identified by the Government make up roughly 15 per cent of the economy (in
terms of gross value added), about 15 per cent of employment and over 25 per
cent of exports.

The report also found that automation is likely to see the
end of up to 500,000 white collar jobs. Bank tellers, clerks, accountants and pharmacists
are some of the people at risk.

However, as the Department of Industry’s department’s chief
economist Mark Cully told the AFR, the pain of the job losses would be
temporary and the research only reinforces the need to pursue structural
change.

“Just as it did
during the Industrial Revolution, when the invention of the loom led to waves
of unemployed weavers but cheaper clothing for the masses,” Cully said.

Most commentators have long accepted there is no future for high volume manufacturing in this country. Australia’s future manufacturing sector will be
a high tech one. Automation will be part of that future and cannot be seen as a
threat to the industry or future jobs.