Manufacturing in Australia has seen some tough times, and a common perception is that we can’t compete with Asia. Managing Director at Rinnai Australia, Greg Ellis, says that couldn’t be further from the truth. “I have argued this many times in the public domain,” Greg says. “I recount that even the Minister of Industry in previous federal Labor governments frequently stated publicly that manufacturing in this country was dead, and that our future lay in simply digging holes in the ground, and exporting these holes, as commoditised resources, with no value add. It would seem that opportunity in the smart country under that sort of political dogma left little for our next generation of Australian workers to aspire to.
“Many people believe the mantra that Australian business can’t compete offshore, and, sadly, politicians and short-sighted government policy over recent decades has tended to cement that view as a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Greg says.
“But we can compete, provided we recognise that we have to find different paradigms and competitive edges.
“Successful manufacturing in this country must focus on items that are niche, that are capital intensive rather than labour intensive, and, if possible, that require high intellect and high technical input.
“However, for thirty years, Australia has systematically — under government lack of foresight — dismembered a highly innovative and efficient manufacturing sector, because economists’ advice was that we did not have the scale to compete. Notably, I might add, it was those countries with even modest scale in domestic markets, and a home-based manufacturing capability, that best survived the GFC.
“With our education base, fundamentally stable economy and political environment, and a long-term low Australian dollar, opportunities in Australia for niche manufacturing are again available and very achievable,” says Greg.