Australia’s economy may need to be revived in light of Christmas holiday rush
By Mark EvansUpdated | December 21, 2016 06:40:38The economic downturn in Australia’s biggest economy has forced the country to revive its manufacturing industry, and it could soon have to rebuild the way it works as well.
The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMPWU) has called for a national “reform to the manufacturing sector” in an open letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, arguing that the downturn is a threat to the long-term sustainability of the industry.
“The global economic downturn and the economic crisis that followed have had a devastating impact on the Australian economy, and the industrial sector is no exception,” the union’s president, Peter White, said.
“There is no way that this downturn can be ignored.”
We need to understand the impact of this economic downturn on manufacturing workers in Australia, and we need to consider how the manufacturing industry can be re-engineered to cope with the challenges that lie ahead.”‘
We need a better way’The letter, which was published by the AMWU on Wednesday, follows a report released on Thursday by the Australian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ACCOI), which revealed that industrial production fell by 6.7 per cent last year, the slowest pace since the end of the global financial crisis.ACCOIs report also revealed that manufacturing employment dropped by 13.9 per cent, the worst decline in its 50-year history.”
This is not good news, and unfortunately it is the worst year for manufacturing since the peak of the crisis in 2008,” AMWUs president Peter White said.
While the downturn has been felt across the economy, the downturn in the manufacturing community has had a particularly devastating impact.”
It is a very hard job,” he said.”[The manufacturing industry] is still the fastest growing in the world.
We need a much better way to build the economy in this sector, so that we are able to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
“Mr White said the government needed to start thinking about how to support manufacturing, and start putting more money into the economy.”
In Australia, there is a lot of slack in the economy,” he told the ABC.”
What is happening to our economy is not going to be reversed overnight.
“And that’s a huge concern for the future.”
In the letter, Mr White argues that the government needs to look at creating a new, more flexible manufacturing model.
“An Australian manufacturing economy needs to be able to adapt and change to meet changing requirements, including with respect to technological change, as well as the need to respond to changing consumer demands,” he wrote.
The union argues that Australia is not ready to embrace automation in manufacturing, as a result of the government’s focus on creating more jobs for women and people with disabilities.
“Automation is a new technology that has not yet reached the level of the manufacturing manufacturing industry,” Mr White said, arguing it is necessary to have more in the way of flexible manufacturing models.
“Manufacturing is a job creator and there needs to come a point where we are in a position where we have a better understanding of what this new technology is capable of and where we can use it to help create a better product.”
Labor’s ‘no new factory’ policyWhile the AMWs union has called on the government to address the crisis, Labor is yet to commit to an industrial strategy, saying it is too early to make any concrete policy proposals.
“Labor’s focus will be on creating jobs and increasing productivity in the Australian manufacturing sector, as the current downturn will not be permanent,” Mr Abbott said in a statement.
“However, there will be some areas of policy, including the reform of the GST, that will be part of the next phase of our industrial strategy.”
Mr Abbott said the “no new factories” policy has been the cornerstone of Labor’s industrial policy.
“If we don’t act now to make the most of our strengths, the global economy is set to lose millions of manufacturing jobs,” he added.
“That’s why I’ve asked for the support of the PM and his Cabinet colleagues to ensure that this crisis is not repeated.”
To ensure that our economy grows and our manufacturing sector can create a brighter future for the many Australians who are part of our economy.