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Australian government wants to boost manufacturing after learning lessons of Covid-19

The Australian government will pump close to $A1.5 billion into the manufacturing sector, outlining plans to shore up local production and strengthen supply chains in the wake of Covid-19.

Workers on production line in apharmaceutical plant, cardboard boxes stacked in foreground.

The Australian government’s investment will prioritise medicines and medical products. Photo: AFP / Sigrid Gombert / Cultura Creative

Under the manufacturing strategy unveiled on Wednesday, $A107 million will be dedicated to strengthening supply lines for essential goods.

That money will prioritise medicines and medical products, with the goal of boosting Australia’s ability to provide critical supplies for itself during surges in demand.

A separate $A1.3b will spent over the next four years, starting in the first half of 2021, to help manufacturers upscale their businesses, with additional focus on turning concepts into finished products, and integrating into global supply chains.

The money will be distributed to businesses willing to co-invest with the government in six priority areas:

  • Resources technology and critical minerals
  • Food and beverages
  • Medical products
  • Recycling and clean energy
  • Defence
  • Space
  • In addition, $A52m will be spent on a second round of the government’s manufacturing modernisation fund.

    Australia’s PM says manufacturing jobs changing

    Recent research from the The Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work ranked Australia lowest among OECD countries in terms of manufacturing self-sufficiency.

    Industry Minister Karen Andrews said the government and industry had learned lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic.

    “Our manufacturers have risen to the challenge to deliver during Covid-19 and now we’re unlocking their potential to deliver for our future,” she said.

    “By playing to our strengths, strategically investing and boosting the role of science and technology in industry, we can open up new markets and take more of our quality products to the world.”

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison will outline more details of the plan in a pre-budget speech at the National Press Club, where he will say manufacturing jobs are increasingly being created away from the assembly line, the ABC reports.

    “Today’s advanced manufacturing enterprise stretches from the labs doing the research and development, the skilled workers doing the design and engineering, through to sales, marketing and after-sale services,” his speech says.

    “Increasingly, this is where most of the value is created – around half of the jobs in manufacturing are in these parts of the manufacturing process.”

    Morrison will say the government plans to work with industry over the next six months to develop road maps for each of the priority manufacturing areas targeted by the government.

    “The roadmaps will set clear goals and performance indicators – such as jobs, R&D and investment – over the next two, five and 10 years,” he will say.

    – ABC

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