Page 893
Previous/Next Page
Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 12

I The First Half Century - The Initial Struggle

II The Second Fifty Years - The Start Of Expansion

III The Third Fifty Years - Federation And The First World War

IV The Fourth Period - Second World War To The Present
i General Conditions
ii Iron and Steel Production
iii Aluminium Technology
iv Innovative Copper Refining Process
v The EDIM-4WD Load-Haul-Dump Vehicle
vi Copper Rod Production
vii Copper Wire and Cables
viii The Diecasting Industry
ix Automotive Components
x Whitegoods or Consumer Durables
xi Hardware
xii Some Recent New Industries
xiii The National Measurement System
xiv Manufacturing Industry in this Decade
xv Acknowledgements



Contact us

Manufacturing Industry in this Decade

The development of manufacturing industries in Australia has required much invention with innovative skill to ensure high productivity of quality goods at competitive prices in both domestic and overseas markets. Success has not, however, been uniform over the various industries. Some have enjoyed a measure of natural protection from overseas competition, as, for example, large drums, bricks or cement tiles where physical size and shape preclude extensive importation. Other industries such as fasteners or fractional horse power electric motors, have suffered considerable competition to the stage where companies may have seriously considered becoming stockists for overseas goods rather than manufacture themselves. Such firms may require special forms of help, such as by Government leasing to them the latest automated equipment to help ensure continuity of Australian manufacture or by bounty arrangements.

Over the last decade or two, a number of reports has been commissioned by the Commonwealth government into various aspects of manufacturing industry including the Vernon, Crawford, Jackson and Myers Reports. Early reports identified an acute 'malaise' in industry and an urgent need for restructuring within industry sectors but perhaps there was a lower level of appreciation of the time scale which would be required before marked changes would become evident. It was noted also that Australia should become less dependent on primary and mineral products export but should urgently strengthen export of manufactured or added value goods to help improve the balance of trade.

In addition, the Government has commissioned reports looking at the amount of research and development undertaken in Australia and particularly the amount and effectiveness of that in the private sector. One report, for example, identifies that computer aided manufacturing had been introduced slowly in Australia because the initial cost was perceived to be too great for small companies to bear.

In March 1984 the then Minister for Industry and Commerce established an important new framework for industry consultative arrangements. The components of the new framework were an Australian Manufacturing Council and a number of Industry Councils. The objectives of the new arrangement were:

  • to promote through consultation increased cooperation and understanding among those elements of the economy with an interest in the manufacturing sector;

  • to facilitate the development and implementation by industry of solutions to industry problems;

  • to provide an industry based mechanism for monitoring and co-ordinating industry activity and for advising the Government on appropriate policies and other matters.

Members of the various councils were drawn from employer and employee organizations and from Government but included also people bringing an independent perspective to the groups. These councils have now completed their first three years of operation and have achieved considerable progress. In particular a stocktake has been undertaken of each industry segment as a basis for developing a strategy for future development. An attempt has been made to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each sector and to see how best the overall sector could achieve more export orientation. Much is expected of these councils in the next three-year period.

As shown in Table 3, there are now over forty thousand establishments operating within manufacturing industry and employing over one million people, of whom around 25 per cent are females. In 1985, turnover amounted to $97,658 million or 47 per cent of GDP. Peak employment in the industry was 1973-74, when 1.3 million people were employed; since then, there has been a slow decline in numbers. The number of establishments, however, has, if anything, increased over this time, indicating the introduction of greater automation.

Table 3

Table 3 Manufacturing establishments operating at 30th June 1985

Source: ABS Catalogue No. 8204 Manufacturing Establishments

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Australian Manufacturing Council

Previous Page Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering Next Page

© 1988 Print Edition page 914, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher