New book urges government to rebuild manufacturing

Thursday, 2 April 1998

Australia must rebuild and reposition its manufacturing industries if the worst effects of the Asian financial crisis are to be avoided, according to the editors of a new book on industry, technology and employment.

Manufacturing Prosperity is a collection of commentaries from some of the most respected economic forecasters, analysts and policy experts in Australia and New Zealand, including:

  • Dr Frank Gelber, director of BIS Shrapnel Australia
  • Mr David Morgan, president of Ford Australia
  • Mr Peter Harris, senior economist with the NZ Council of Trade Unions
  • Mr Peter Roberts, columnist for The Australian Financial Review

The book is edited by Mr Rodin Genoff (senior industry analyst with the University of Adelaide's Centre for Labour Research) and Professor Roy Green (director of the Employment Studies Centre, University of Newcastle).

Mr Genoff says Manufacturing Prosperity is unique in that it represents the views of a diverse range of stakeholders, all of whom share the same vision for manufacturing in Australia.

"One of the key arguments of this book is that Australia's future depends on knowledge-intensive manufacturing," Mr Genoff says.

"Australia's traditional reliance on primary commodity exports has locked it into declining terms of trade, and hence lower living standards and higher unemployment than would otherwise be the case.

"Manufacturing currently accounts for 65% of all research and development and has a technological innovation propensity three times the non-manufacturing average.

"A strong technological and sophisticated manufacturing base in Australia would lead to a turn-around both in living standards and unemployment."

Contributor Dr Frank Gelber says the Asian crisis should highlight to federal and State governments the need for greater support, and a new direction, for Australia's manufacturing sector.

"Whilst the current Asian crisis has a short-term negative impact, longer term the significant realignment of currencies provides a good opportunity to expand our export markets around the world. The main danger for Australia lies in complacency, particularly about the prospects of a widening current account deficit," he says.

"Support for Australia's manufacturing sector has been a policy free zone for more than a decade," says co-editor Professor Roy Green.

"The present government has commissioned a number of reports in this area, but little has come of this debate. If it is not to be another wasted opportunity, the Asian crisis must sharpen the focus of government policy on Australia's manufacturing future."

In his foreword, international economics commentator and editor of the London Observer Mr Will Hutton wrote: "The importance of [Manufacturing Prosperity] is that it faces up to the choice of Australia's economic future. It canvasses new ideas for industry and regional policy and practical ways of exploring them."

Manufacturing Prosperity will be launched nationally in Sydney by Mr Philip Holt, managing director of Australian Business Ltd on Thursday, April 2 at Australian Business Ltd.

Manufacturing Prosperity is published by Federation Press and retails for $39.95.


Contact Details

Mr Rodin Genoff
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 3636
Mobile: 014 478 005

Ms Robyn Mills
Media and Communications Officer
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 6341
Mobile: +61 410 689 084

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762