Despite tough economic times, this year’s Endeavour Awards demonstrated Australian manufacturers are up to the challenge. Katherine Crichton reports.
AFTER taking out the Exporter of the Year category, followed by highly commended in the Safety and Environmental Solutions categories, it was an easy choice for judges to award Toyota Australia the prestigious Endeavour Manufacturer of Year for 2009, proudly sponsored by BlueScope Steel.
Jon Ward, Toyota Australia’s manager of environmental policy, accepted the award on behalf of Toyota at the presentation ceremony held at the RACV Club in Melbourne, May 13th.
“We are proud to receive this award as an acknowledgement of our contribution to Australian manufacturing,” Ward said to the packed room of Endeavour Award nominees and guests.
Mike Rausa, senior divisional manage, manufacturing support at Toyota, said the award is a testament to the efforts of the company’s 3500 manufacturing employees constantly striving to improve Toyota’s performance to ensure its long term global competitiveness.
“Toyota Australia is not immune to the impact of the economic crisis. It’s tough for carmakers and suppliers: everyone is under pressure,” Rausa said.
“It’s vital that we continue to undertake programs that will lead to new innovations across our manufacturing business. In receiving this award Toyota appreciates that its efforts have been recognised by the broader manufacturing industry.
“We hope that our efforts along with the other finalists will serve as a platform to encourage best practice in the industry and show the wider community the benefits and strategic importance of manufacturing to Australia,” Rausa told Manufacturers’ Monthly.
In a special video-taped address, industry minister Senator Kim Carr congratulated the record number of Endeavour Award finalists and winners on their outstanding achievements and for “rising to the challenge of increasing competition and constant change”.
“The world is going through some very tough times right now — and when times are tough, it is the manufacturing sector we look to for new ideas and new hope,” Carr said.
“We all know that manufacturing is under a lot of pressure.
“The good news is that people are responding to that pressure by getting smarter about the way they do things.
“They are become more productive and more creative. And they have the Australian Government’s total support,” Carr said as he outlined Government initiatives such as Enterprise Connect, Retooling for Climate Change, the new green car plan and the creation of industry innovation councils across the country.
“We want this sector to prosper and grow — and we believe it has a great future.
“The Manufacturers’ Monthly Endeavour Awards are proof of that.
“The record number of finalists this year reminds us yet again just how good our manufacturers are, and how much they have to offer,” he said.
Other highlights of the evening included an engaging and entertaining keynote address by Craig Milne, Executive Director of the Australian Productivity Council (APC), who looked at the affects of economic reform on the manufacturing industry.
Briefly outlining the history of economic reform since Australian Federation, Milne highlighted the inequity between Australia’s key industry sectors, urging manufacturers to be more “organised” and work together rather than relying on just government involvement.
“We are more than dirt diggers and service staff: Australians want to see things made in Australia,” Milne said.
“Manufacturers need to get organised and to get aggressive.
“Environmental groups and unions have been lobbying for better policies for years, now it’s time for manufacturers to proactively campaign for policies that benefit the industry,” Mine said.