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FactCheck: is Australia losing one manufacturing job every 19 minutes?

“Under this [Labor] government we’ve seen one manufacturing job lost every 19 minutes.” - Opposition industry spokeswoman Sophie Mirabella, Q&A, 1 July. The Conversation contacted Mirabella’s office…

Australian manufacturing workers are feeling the heat of economic change. www.shutterstock.com

“Under this [Labor] government we’ve seen one manufacturing job lost every 19 minutes.” - Opposition industry spokeswoman Sophie Mirabella, Q&A, 1 July.

The Conversation contacted Mirabella’s office to request a source for this claim, and a spokesman quickly responded:

“Sophie’s comment on Q&A was based on ABS data… the Labour Detailed Quarterly collection (cat no. 6291.0.55.003). If you open Table 04 in the series of spreadsheets available in that collection, then the ‘Data 1’ tab, and then column W, you’ll see it contains seasonally adjusted manufacturing employment figures from 1984 to the current day.

“For the ‘1 every 19 minutes’ calculation, Sophie was using the decline from 1,081,700 employees for February 2008 (the first reading after Labor was elected at the end of 2007) through to the most recent number of 938,300 for May 2013. That’s an overall loss of 143,400 jobs over a period of five-and-a-quarter years, or 273 weeks.”

Dividing that jobs figure by the time elapsed, Mirabella’s office came up with the total of around one job lost every 19 minutes. The spokesman added:

“It’s worth pointing out that at no time prior to this period of Labor Government has the total number of jobs in Australian manufacturing ever fallen below the 1 million mark, let alone by so far under that mark. I may be wrong, but I also don’t think there’s ever been such a sustained loss of manufacturing jobs over a five-year period.”

So are those calculations right? Is it true that Australian manufacturing has had a particularly bad five years compared to the past? And to put that in some context, how has manufacturing fared in other industralised countries?

Crunching the numbers

Employment figures by industry are available from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on a quarterly basis. That data is also available through the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Short Term Labour Market Statistics. The OECD version reports data to the unit, while the ABS version rounds up data to the nearest hundred.

Kevin Rudd was elected prime minister on 24 November 2007, towards the end of the fourth quarter of the year, so I have examined employment data from the first quarter of 2008 to the end of the second quarter of 2013 to cover when Labor has been in power to date.

The ABS data shows that there were 1,081,664 manufacturing jobs at the start of 2008 and 938,280 by the second quarter of 2013 - meaning there was a net decline of 143,384 jobs.

In that time, there were 22 quarters, each averaging 91.25 days. Since there are 24 x 60 = 1440 minutes in a day, the total number of minutes in a quarter is equal to 1440 x 91.25 = 131,400. Hence, in 22 quarters there are 22 x 131,400 = 2,890,800 minutes. Dividing 2,890,800 by 143,384 one obtains 20.16, which means that one manufacturing job was lost every 20 minutes from the first quarter of 2008 up until the second quarter of this year.

Mirabella’s figure is slightly different because instead of counting the duration of the time in government in quarters, she counts it in months, starting from February 2008 and ending in May 2013. This approach is consistent with the fact that ABS collects quarterly data on the second month of each quarter. This way of counting yields a total of 2,759,400 minutes. Dividing this number by 143,384 we obtain 19.24; that is, one job lost every 19 minutes.

Both counts are acceptable and they yield very similar results, so I would consider both to be numerically correct.

But what does it mean that Australia is losing one manufacturing job was lost every 19 (or 20) minutes? It is worth putting that in some historical and international context.

Made in Australia: a recent history

The data series available from the ABS goes back to the mid-1980s. So it is possible to compute “minutes for one manufacturing job loss” for five consecutive periods of 22 quarters, from the first quarter of 1986 through to the second quarter of 2013.

As noted earlier, the last of those periods corresponds to the Rudd/Gillard Labor governments. The results of this exercise are summarised in Chart 1 below:

Chart 1: Minutes between jobs lost or created in Australian manufacturing. Author’s calculation from ABS data

The chart suggests that the loss of manufacturing job is not a recent phenomenon: with the exception of the 1991-1996 period, all other 22-month periods since 1986 are characterised by a decline in manufacturing employment.

But it is correct that the pace at which jobs in manufacturing are lost has been faster in the most recent period.

In the 22 quarters preceding the beginning of the first Rudd government, one manufacturing job was lost every 140 minutes.

Before that, from the start of 1997 to mid-2002, one manufacturing job was lost about every two hours.

And in the period from the start of 1986 to the second quarter of 1991, one manufacturing job was lost about every hour.

Rudd vs Gillard

Some recent trends in Australian employment are worth noting, including that manufacturing job losses slowed considerably while Julia Gillard was prime minister.

In the 10 quarters of the first Rudd government, one manufacturing job was lost every 12.5 minutes; during the 12 quarters of the Gillard government, one manufacturing job was lost every 29 minutes.

However, this is not really surprising, given that the early years of the Rudd government corresponded to the most acute phase of the Global Financial Crisis.

Jobs growth in the wider economy

The employment data also shows that the loss of jobs in manufacturing has been matched by a gain of jobs in other sectors.

Seasonally adjusted total employment data for the second quarter of this year are not yet available. So, one can only compute changes in total employment over the period from the first quarter of 2008 to the first quarter of 2013.

Over these 21 quarters, total employment (including manufacturing) in Australia increase by 836,490 units. This is equivalent to one new job being created every 3 minutes.

The global picture

Finally, it is worth looking at a global perspective using OECD Short Term Labour Market Statistics.

Using the same methodology described above, we can determine “minutes for one manufacturing job loss” for each of the 34 OECD member nations, including Australia, over the period from the first quarter of 2008 to the first quarter of 2013.

Chart 2, below, shows how Australia compares with other OECD nations on manufacturing employment. The first column is the main one; I have included the column on the right in order to include countries for which 2013 figures are not yet available.

Chart 2: Manufacturing job trends among OECD nations. Author’s computation based on OECD Short Term Labour Market Statistics.

Chart 3, below, shows a comparison between Australia and six of the G7 economies (second quarter 2013 data was not yet available for France, so it was excluded from the comparison).

Chart 3: Author’s calculations from OECD, Short Term Labour Force Statistics data

As it can be seen, the experience of Australia is not unique.

In fact, five out of the six other countries used for this comparison lost manufacturing jobs at a faster rate than Australia (one every 2 minutes in the US and Japan, one every five minutes in the UK and Italy, and one every 12 minutes in Canada).

The loss of manufacturing jobs is a common phenomenon in many industrialised countries and it is partly due to the process of structural transformation of the economy. Furthermore, the Global Financial Crisis hit manufacturing hard worldwide.

Verdict

Sophie Mirabella’s calculations of manufacturing job losses are correct.

Her spokesman’s assertion that manufacturing jobs have been lost at a faster rate in the past five years than other recent five-year periods (going back to 1986) is also correct.

However, these job losses should be considered in their wider international context, including the Global Financial Crisis and an even sharper decline in manufacturing jobs in a number of other industralised economies.

While manufacturing jobs have been lost in Australia, over the past 21 quarters total employment (including manufacturing) has increased at a rate of one new job created every 3 minutes.


Review

I have gone through both the Mirabella statement and this author’s comments. These comments confirm that Mirabella’s original statement, with some minor quibbling, was basically correct.

The main point seems to me to be not the factual accuracy but, as the author points out, the phenomenon that manufacturing employment has been on the slide for over 40 years, no matter who has been in power. This is as a result of structural change, whereby manual labour has been replaced by labour requiring knowledge and people skills as we become an advanced, service-based economy.

There is no reason why we would necessarily regret the passing of skills no longer in demand and the stronger growth in demand for different skills, as long as jobs growth overall increases. There are, however, problems for those workers whose skills are no longer in demand who may find it difficult to gain employment in the new growth areas of the economy. - Phil Lewis

The Conversation is fact checking political statements in the lead-up to this year’s federal election. Statements are checked by an academic with expertise in the area. A second academic expert reviews an anonymous copy of the article.

Request a check at checkit@theconversation.edu.au. Please include the statement you would like us to check, the date it was made, and a link if possible.

Join the conversation

59 Comments sorted by

Comments on this article are now closed.

  1. Mat Hardy

    Lecturer in Middle East Studies at Deakin University

    I wouldn't see how a government of any persuasion could be blamed for loss of "manufacturing" jobs in Australia. Not when for the last two decades we have been driving our cars (made in Korea and Thailand) back to our houses with a Chinese air conditioner, switching on our mega-screen TV (China or Korea), fiddling with our iPhone (China), washing our Bangladeshi clothes in a Chinese washing machine etc etc etc.

    Instead of manufacturing jobs we just have an endless pool of minimum wage retail jobs to sell all the stuff that we're hooked on "needing".

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    1. Kevin Bain

      Teacher

      In reply to Mat Hardy

      Yes, I was a bit surprised that the reviewer said "manual labour has been replaced by labour requiring knowledge and people skills as we become an advanced, service-based economy." Much of the expanding services sector is in retail and hospitality, transport, and caring occupations, so is largely manual not intellectual labour, and low wage. Loss of skilled and professional occupations in manufacturing is not mentioned here.

      A bit more nuance for an educated audience please!

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    2. Daniel Flesch

      Proprietor at Mowing Growing Gardening

      In reply to Mat Hardy

      Mat , you don't understand.It's totally Labor's fault that the Board of the company making chesty bonds singlets decided to close the factory here and relocate to China. It's also Labor's fault that the Hard Yakka work pants i have been wearing for over 20 years are now made in China with the metal button and zipper replaced by inferior plastic ones. It's also Labor's fault the price of the pants is the same as before despite the lower cost of production and the high AUD. But don't worry - once the Libs are back in all those lost manufacturing jobs will miraculously re-appear and those disused factories and warehouses will be re-recycled from yuppie apartments back to happy humming workplaces. with jolly workers on individual contracts. Can't wait.

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    3. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Kevin Bain

      Actually, manual labour has just swapped the blue singlet for a collared shirt and moved inside to the office, call centre etc. Even more mindless and unskilled, just not as sweaty and smelly, and no bum crack.

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    4. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Mat Hardy

      Mat, and yet we are one of the top wealth per capita nations on earth and number 1 on the HDI, and the UN projects we will remain number 1 from 2014 until at least 2025.

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    1. Norm Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Graham Mann

      Junk indeed! I wonder what the average inside leg measurement of the workers displaced under Julia is as compared to their median wage in Tsarist roubles under Howard/Costello. Hmmmm I wonder ...

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  2. Rory Cunningham
    Rory Cunningham is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Test Analyst

    I hate how politicians focus so much on manufactoring when it is an old technology and yet others such as services like IT get completely ignored. The fact that manufactoring is dropping is no surprise

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    1. Ian Rudd

      Retired accountant

      In reply to Rory Cunningham

      As no surprise maybe but is still a worry. A diversified economy, not based on one or two dominating sectors like mining reduces the countries vulnerability to price and demand fluctuations in that sector and also increases its dependence on imports of other essential goods and services.

      I would say that a resilient, diversified economy is a more effective means of providing for a countries security than large military expenditures and expensive efforts to divert asylum seekers to other shores.

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  3. Greg Young

    Program Director

    In the light of Mirabella's claim, it would also be worth considering whether the policy positions she has espoused in that period would have made matters better or worse. For example, she has consistently opposed further assistance to the automobile industry. Presumably that would have encouraged Ford to exit even earlier, and maybe pushed Holden over the edge as well. She hnad her team have also consistently oppose dhte pump-priming done by the rudd Government as a response to the GFC. Would Australia's numbers look any better under LNP policies? Doubtful.

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  4. Felix MacNeill

    Environmental Manager

    Thanks for the article - classic illustration of the difference between data and information.

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  5. James Hill

    Industrial Designer

    High wages export manufacturing employment from all those countries with high wages.
    High housing costs demand high wages to service those high housing costs.
    High housing costs export employment in manufacturing.
    The ten year, trillion dollar, Howard enabled, middle class, mortgage debt orgy produced high wage costs and exported manufacturing jobs to those countries without mortgage debt problems.
    Ergo, Mirabella and friends are responsible for destroying manufacturing in Australia.

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  6. Peter Smith

    (None)

    It's important to be aware of Dutch Disease and perhaps examine the contribution that its had to the decline. Manufacturing isn't something that will return easily.

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  7. Terry Reynolds

    Financial and political strategist

    Thanks Phil!

    This is why i read "The Conversation". It is a thirst for the facts, the truth and reason!

    Eventually "The Conversation" will; become the most read news organ and commentary in the nation if your keep produce evidenced based information to an Australian audience. Well done!

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    1. Ian Rudd

      Retired accountant

      In reply to Terry Reynolds

      "Eventually "The Conversation" will; become the most read news organ and commentary in the nation..."

      I wish it were so but I fear it is wishful thinking.

      I continually ask myself why the mainstream media is mainstream and I realize now that it is in large part because it is inane. We have an inane mainstream and TC is not part of it.

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  8. Tony Grant

    Student

    What about the free trade agreement with the USA (Howard government) what effects has that had on manufacturing and general jobs landscape?

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    1. Anthony Spawton

      Retired Academic

      In reply to Tony Grant

      Little to none- when asked whether Australia would benefit from the Free Trade agreement in relation to the US - her answer- " The President does not sign any agreement that disadvantages the US". .
      The South American's sent Bush packing for that reason. (I was in Argentina at the time). Argentina and Brazil add duty to exports of Beef and Sugar respectively to the US so that the Ranchers of the Mid West and Citrus Growers of Florida and California are not disadvantaged. For anyone doing business with the US (and I know) is one of the most difficult imaginable. For Wine Sales the 3 tier system ( a throwback to Prohibition) is an expensive and regulatory nightmare.

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  9. Bob from Canberra

    in his anecdotage

    So as our standard of living has risen, the manufacturing sector has declined.
    Does Mirabella want us to now go backwards and become a poorly paid sweatshop for countries with high standards of living?

    Much of what we buy from China, Bangladesh, and so on is designed and managed from Australia, so is this the high-tech, high-value end of manufacturing?

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    1. Rex Gibbs

      Engineer/Director

      In reply to Bob from Canberra

      How did you get this from what was said?

      KRudd in one of his recent Energiser Bunny moments said he wants to be Prime Minister of a country that makes things. I think Sophie Mirabella (who almost makes me cringe a more than Julia G but less than Sen. Edwards) was making the point that this is not what Labor have been achieving by destroying the capability to achieve flexibility. I think she was making a point that the FWA provisions damage productivity and can destroy manufacturing jobs.
      As one who makes stuff I know it does not mean paying 2nd world wages but it is about being flexible and agile and being able to work late or start early to deliverbetter and product tailored to the customer delivered at the time they need it.

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    2. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Rex Gibbs

      Rex, does the large private debt level in Australia affect the domestic market for your goods?
      After rent and mortgates is there much left to support the local market?
      Is this something that you might take into consideration?

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    3. Daniel Flesch

      Proprietor at Mowing Growing Gardening

      In reply to Rex Gibbs

      Hi Rex , you are possibly a good flexible boss who can give as well as take. I have a couple of good well-paid casual workers - we all accomodate and adapt to each others' needs. But many other workers not so lucky and bosses not so benign. Some people called in on half an hours' notice to do a 3 hour shift - when transport costs and time factored in it's hardly worth it. Others asked at short notice to do overtime when they have childcare or other family committments. In my experience an employee valued and acknowledged will help whenever they can. An unappreciated low-paid one ends up angry , unproductive and the business suffers.

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  10. Kerrie Curran

    logged in via Facebook

    What a robust analysis on the use of statistics taken out of context used for some sort of gain (in this case political). We all need to be more sceptical when interpreting statistics and double check the motivations of the person or organisation pedalling the propaganda.

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    1. ERIC KELLY

      retired

      In reply to Kerrie Curran

      Who was it who said 'There are lies, damned lies and then there are statistics'?

      What Ms Mirabella said was true - but it wasn't what Tony Abbott would call 'Gospel truth' - that is, the whole truth; and ultimately, in any event, irrelevant.

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  11. Terry Reynolds

    Financial and political strategist

    Sophie Mirabella merely made the comment in albeit on a hysteria basis rather than an intellectual one where she has a real solution, that we are losing a manufacturing job every 19 minutes. Australians have been concerned about that since the nineteen eighties and despite extended Coalition and Labor periods of Government, no one is going to stop it.

    The fact that we can buy so many of our Western demanded manufactured goods from Asia at prices way below what we can produce them for has helped…

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  12. Richard Windsor

    Mycologist

    Another case of Academic excellence , journalistic flair out the window. A meaningless analysis of an even more meaningless statistic.
    Job losses must be measured against population, participation rates, structural profile and GDP.

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  13. Sean Manning

    Physicist

    Similar 'Manufacturing is dead' claims are made elsewhere, such as the US. A closer look backs up the claims of structural changes in the economy wherein advanced countries are shifting from low skilled manufacturing involving large numbers of workers to high skilled manufacturing involving fewer workers. Despite the claims of blindly negative politicians this is actually a positive and should be held up as an example of how well a country is performing. The strength of the manufacturing industry…

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    1. Sean Manning

      Physicist

      In reply to Sean Manning

      Doh! Posted too early.

      Australia would be wise to increase it's focus on advanced/skilled manufacturing. There is a huge opportunity there and THIS should be the message the polititians are spruking. Things like renewable energy tech are minnig technologies are two that come to mind immediately.

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  14. John Pollard

    Casual Observer

    Wow! That sure is a hard job to hold down! ; )

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  15. Steven Waters

    logged in via Facebook

    add to this the jobs lost in the building sector because it is in recession and the thousands being lost in retail then we are headed for an increase in unemployment. its OK to say that manufacturing is an old tech but there is nothing wrong with Australia making their own stuff. it employs thousands and would balance our trade deficit. we have ridden on the back of the mining boom which is now slowing and we have little to replace it with. labor have cut the funding to universities so the brain drain will happen as well. labor and the unions make doing business harder with their added costs and regulations and we cannot compete with foreign companies.

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  16. G Curtis

    None of your beeswax

    Great research! I am so glad nonsense of the like of Sophie Mirabella's is being examined so thoroughly. As another correspondent points out, the Liberals are using "junk facts" that are designed to elicit an emotional response. Is it because the Liberals don't have anything else?

    I would like to remind other correspondents here that every manufacturing job lost is a family ruined, a career destroyed, maybe a marriage and family down the drain and so on, you get the picture. Often the victims…

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  17. Steve Phillips

    Nurse Practitioner

    One of my dearest friends is the managing director of a medium sized steel truss fabrication firm. He spends a lot of time trying to get contracts with the large construction firms doing the various projects here in WA. Time and time again he sees contracts going to China. We cannot compete with state subsidised firms who can under cut any quote given here. They can still ship the tens of thousands of tons to WA and come in cheaper than local companies.
    It is well know that China subsidises it's industries and it's Yuan is well undervalued. Our govt CAN do something! It can impose tarrifs on subsidised goods and set a strict local content level for all major projects.
    This is done in most of the countries we trade with including Canada and they are able to keep their jobs.
    Why not here?

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    1. Peter Smith

      (None)

      In reply to Steve Phillips

      Agreed. The new Anti-dumping Commission should act quickly before it's too late. And if it's not dumping, but a subsidy (even for the electricity to produce it), it should attract a equivalent tariff yes.

      Further, (primarily foreign-owned) mining companies should be sourcing materials locally first. They've infected us with Dutch Diesase, they should help contain it.

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    2. Daniel Flesch

      Proprietor at Mowing Growing Gardening

      In reply to Steve Phillips

      Why not here ?
      We first reduced tarrifs under Whitlam to make lazy Aussie companies smarten up . Then we proceeded to abolish them due to the Free Trade fetish gaining currency. Problem is Oz is about the only country that adheres to it thoroughly. Europe , Asia , America subsidise manufacturers , farmers and their own consumers . Why not here ? "Coz we're stoopid , that's why. And we can't migrate to Canada either - too bloody cold there.

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    3. Ian Rudd

      Retired accountant

      In reply to Daniel Flesch

      Canada, I think is, under the current regime, fast catching up with us on the stupidity front.

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  18. ian cheong

    logged in via email @acm.org

    If one is going to include a table showing a comparison of job losses/gains, on what basis does one selectively choose a subset to graph, other than to mislead. Company in misery?

    All the ones with positive numbers are creating jobs and doing better than us. Germany with a bigger negative number is doing better than us.

    Surely a percentage of losses compared with the national workforce would be a more useful and objective comparator.

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  19. Peter Redshaw

    Retired

    Even though the fact check may be right in what it says, it is a nonsensical argument. We all know that manufacturing jobs have been decreasing in Australia as well as the rest of the developed world. Or, at least we should know that basic fact. But that is only one part of the picture.

    Manufacturing jobs have been decreasing for two main reasons. One being of course the globalisation of our market place and with it manufacturing moving to lower wage developing economies. Although of course…

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    1. Rotha Jago

      concerned citizen

      In reply to Peter Redshaw

      I would like some of The Greens 'facts' checked.
      I live in Regional Queensland, and have seen major environmental collapse since the advent of''anti climate change" expenditure of Millions of Government Dollars.

      Millions of litres of herbicide have been sprayed on "weeds" and disaster has followed.
      There is a strange lingo which "Increases biodiversity" by spreading
      the modified substance Glyphosate over thousands of square kilometers of wet tropical North Queensland. This has dried out the soils, causing instability and landslips.

      The Rudd Government has at last decided to reduce spending
      on The Environment. Thank Heaven!! Crazy "Environment" spending has gone on for far too long. It started in the days of the Howard Government. Lies have been told and The Greens keep pushing for more to be spent. Why?

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    2. Liz Minchin
      Liz Minchin is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Queensland Editor at The Conversation

      In reply to Rotha Jago

      G'day Rotha,

      We've been looking for facts to check from all parties (and some independents) and have had lots of requests - but one of the challenges we've had is that most requests coming in have been "please fact check the Coalition/Greens/Labor/Rudd/Abbott" etc. Where do you start?

      But if there is a particular Greens quote or claim that you'd like checked (eg I read Christine Milne said "xxx" in the Courier Mail yesterday, is that true?) then please send it to checkit@theconversation.edu.au & we can take a look.

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    3. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Peter Redshaw

      All that is very well, but after Rudd said "climate change is the greatest moral issue of our time" he volleyed with "I don't want to live in a country that doesn't make stuff".

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    4. Peter Redshaw

      Retired

      In reply to David Thompson

      I am not sure of your argument. Are you saying the world should not make stuff anymore because of climate change. Or are you simply saying that Australia should not make stuff anymore.

      We are a world of 7 going on 8 billion people. We are no longer a hunter gather society anymore and even hunter gather societies made stuff. They even probably helped to put CO2 into the atmosphere once they discovered and used fire. But of course not in the way or amount that we do since the advent of the industrial…

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    5. Ian Rudd

      Retired accountant

      In reply to Peter Redshaw

      But we also do have to make less stuff and we do have to do something about population growth. We need to have less people using less stuff and using that stuff more efficiently. It's not one or the other but all and even that, at this point will probably not be enough.

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  20. David Thompson

    Marketing Research

    "But what does it mean that Australia is losing one manufacturing job was lost every 19 (or 20) minutes? It is worth putting that in some historical and international context."
    Not wanting to be rude, but that is Mirabella's job and prerogative. Your job is just to check the fact please.

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    1. Kevin Bain

      Teacher

      In reply to David Thompson

      Didn't you read Professor Graham Mann's comment on the international context? "this is a classic junk statistic. The international comparisons make this clear - bigger countries have smaller numbers. This is because more jobs must be lost and gained per hour in bigger labour markets." The author and reviewer missed this crucial insight - Oops!

      Are you saying it is Mirabella's prerogative to disseminate junk statistics? The academic's job surely is to call that for what it is.

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  21. Anthony Spawton

    Retired Academic

    Good Comment Matt- Australia is moving from an economy that,makes and grows things to one that consumes goods and services. This means a shift in the workforce and a need for re-skilling of the workforce.
    Manufacturing for the last 50 years was either protected by tariff walls (pre-Whitlam) and the subsidies to manufacturing continue today especially to the car industry.
    Julia Gillard said quite categorically that the Australian economy is in transition as are all the advanced economies of the…

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    1. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Anthony Spawton

      Anthony, Australia has never, ever been a manufacturing nation. At its very height, manufacturing maxed at about 30% of employment and GDP. And a lot of that was foreign multinationals like Ford/Holden, inefficiently hiding behind tariffs and handouts.

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    2. John Canning

      Professor at University of Sydney

      In reply to David Thompson

      You miss the point that generally every manufacturing job leads to multiple jobs in support and service sectors. When manufacturing disappears most of the rest falls down over time. The remaining work is tourism and dirt digging...Jobs that generally move towards lower pay over time when the economic manufacturing backbone is removed. And if you've stayed in an Australian hotel you often have no Internet in your room...very undeveloped but highly overpriced sector...

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  22. John Canning

    Professor at University of Sydney

    If we had had true globalisation rather than this one-sided nonsense masqueraded as true globalisation then that would mean an international agreement for standardised salaries - that in turn would mean businesses and companies would not be so eager to move offshore to enhance their profits and countries like Australia would not see such a decline in manufacturing...
    We are now seeing feral one-sided globalisation extend to our property markets where increasingly apartments and now houses are aimed at overseas buyers (including our real estate agents setting up offices overseas and concentrating on that market alone) - I just came from the gold coast where the bubble is bursting so there is even a more frenzied push to sell overseas directly just like in Greece and Spain! Absolute disaster up there...and no jobs but menial hotel and low paid taxi jobs - the service industry myth looks likely to be at best the gateway to bring down salaries overall in Australia...

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  23. Garry Baker

    researcher

    Unfortunately this article is predicated on dealing with the entrails, and does not address Australia's problems in the least. Added to this, what does a lost job every 19 minutes mean, with our population of 22m, when compared to say, Germany, with four times the population, yet three times the span for a job loss. In short, the timing for a per capita job loss would make sense, whereas losses alone, don't. Compared to Germany, Australia is in a dismal state.

    The Australian commentariat…

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    1. Kevin Bain

      Teacher

      In reply to Garry Baker

      You said "now we don't even make nuts and bolts. Yes indeed, fasteners are not made in Australia these days." But go and look up Ajax Fasteners website where you find their Braeside plant "uses 10,000 tonnes of steel per year to produce 200 million fasteners."

      Have you heard of the ABS? Their catalogue 8155.0 Australian Industry 2011-12 shows that mfg is not dead despite the tosh that gets thrown around. Table 1.1 shows mfg employment has declined from 1.005 million in 2007-8 to 929,000 in 2011-12. For employment, it ranks 6th of their 18 industry categories, on a par with Accommodation and Food Services.

      Most ABS pubs are free and online - there is no excuse for misleading and windy tosh from commenters (some of whom call themselves Professors or researchers) about a fact-checking article of all things.

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    2. Peter Smith

      (None)

      In reply to Kevin Bain

      I've done some work for Buildex/ITW near Moorabbin... pretty sure they're still making good quality nuts and bolts.

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    3. Garry Baker

      researcher

      In reply to Kevin Bain

      Ajax have risen from the dead, I wasn't aware of that, having dismissed them as a writeoff years ago. So yes Kevin, I do admit it was a sloppy commentary to offer.

      When their plant was shut down and put into administration it made fairly widespread news, whereby the car companies decided not to come up with anything more than a band aid rescue package to keep their own domestic supply chains going for the short term, so the workers at Ajax were then handed their redundancy packages. At the…

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    4. Peter Smith

      (None)

      In reply to Garry Baker

      "Yes indeed, fasteners are not made in Australia these days."... except in the base of Buildex.

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    5. Ian Rudd

      Retired accountant

      In reply to Garry Baker

      Thank you Garry for a well informed comment. Australia's free trade ideology has become almost religious in its refusal to recognize the facts of the situation.

      The fact is, as I might have commented elsewhere, no country has built up a large, competitive industry without some form of protection, be it trade tariffs, subsidized R&D as with the US high tech industry, or otherwise.

      Also without a variety of diversified industries, like you might want in a share portfolio, a country becomes less resilient and self sustainable in the event of crises like the current global financial one about to hit theses shores.

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  24. Peter Wilkin

    Australian Realist

    Would Sophie Mirabella work in a manufacturing job?

    Can she be pictured with her hair in a snood and her sleeves rolled up, working the same clanking key punch machine for thirty years for sake of Australia?

    How would she feel then about the Liberal Party and all that it stands for?

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  25. rave swei

    logged in via email @yahoo.com

    Using "Minutes between jobs lost" as measure of decline of manufacturing is at least misleading. It is completely pointless to compare "Minutes between jobs lost" in USA (country with 15 times more residents and 20 times more manufacturing jobs) and Australia. Let assume we lose 0.1% of manufacturing jobs every weak that is 10 Minutes between jobs lost. If job loss rate in USA is "ten times worse" - 1 Minute between jobs lost, that will still make US losing "only" 0.05% of manufacturing jobs every…

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  26. Kim Rennick

    Consultant at Business Clarity Pty Ltd

    The Shadow Industries Minister reveals her appalling lack of knowledge of industries with every word she utters.

    She is now claiming that Ford's planned cessation of manufacturing is caused by - you guessed it - the Carbon Tax!

    Anyone with the most rudimentary knowledge of the situation understands that Ford's problems have been in the making for 10 years or more. They have been predicted, documented, analysed and discussed ad nauseum over that time. They have nothing to do with the Carbon Tax! (I can guarantee that once the CT is removed, Ford's manufacturing operations will not suddenly and magically recommence!)

    How and why on earth was Ms Mirabella appointed to this portfolio? Is the Liberal party so totally lacking in anyone who actually knows something about this critically important part of the Australian economy? Does she really think that the public is so uninformed and ignorant that they (we) will swallow her tosh?

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    1. Ian Rudd

      Retired accountant

      In reply to Kim Rennick

      The truth or otherwise of these statements is purely coincidental. What matters is whether they gain or lose votes and many voters believe what they want to believe.

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