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Analysis and Comment (40)

Canada faces similar pressures on its car industry, but its approach has been opposite to that of Australia. Canada faces similar pressures on its car industry, but its approach has been opposite to that of Australia. AAP/Paul Osborne

Canada and Australia: a tale of two car industries

As Australian prime minister Tony Abbott arrives in Canada to talk investment and trade, both countries are facing similar challenges to their respective manufacturing bases, particularly in the automotive…
In China, there has been a shift away from traditional textile and clothing to computers and communications. In China, there has been a shift away from traditional textile and clothing to computers and communications. AAP/EPA/SHEPHERD ZHOU CHINA OUT

As India and China transform, Australian manufacturers must follow

As Australia laments the decline of its manufacturing sector, China is actively taking steps to accelerate its move up the value chain. Historically a low-cost operating environment, China was once an…
Business has agitated for change, but is now wary of the negative impact of a tough budget. Business has agitated for change, but is now wary of the negative impact of a tough budget.

The state of Australia: business

In the lead up to the budget, the story of crisis has been hammered home, but there’s more to a country than its structural deficit. So how is Australia doing overall? In this special series, ten writers…
Australia’s loss of economic complexity is leading to a primitive economy in which the nation’s share of the value of its products shrinks and living standards fall. Australia’s loss of economic complexity is leading to a primitive economy in which the nation’s share of the value of its products shrinks and living standards fall. Marija Piliponyte/Shutterstock

For want of industry policy, our living standards are set to fall

Australia faces a fall in living standards unless policy action is taken. This is due to de-industrialisation and loss of economic complexity. The higher the economic complexity, the stronger the economy’s…
Manufacturing businesses involved in the car industry are facing tough decisions. Manufacturing businesses involved in the car industry are facing tough decisions. AAP

What does diversification really mean for our auto sector?

The recent decisions by Ford, Holden and Toyota to cease manufacturing in Australia have raised serious concerns for the thousands of Australian businesses who work in the automotive supply chain. Manufacturers…
A mini power plant in a North Sydney basement. Trigeneration plants like these generate electricity, heating and cooling far more efficiently than with mains power. A mini power plant in a North Sydney basement. Trigeneration plants like these generate electricity, heating and cooling far more efficiently than with mains power. AAP/Short Communications, Girrit Fokkema

How to save business billions, without cutting renewable jobs

The debate about the future of Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) has largely focused on the issue of immediate costs to business. But if we’re thinking about Australia’s long-term economic interests…
Software and interactive content development account for the largest proportion of creative skills in Australia. Software and interactive content development account for the largest proportion of creative skills in Australia. ImagineCup

We can rebalance Australia’s economy with creative industries

Australia’s economic challenge is now starkly apparent. In the wake of a diminishing contribution to our national income by primary commodity exports (think iron ore, coal), we need to “rebalance” the…
Efficient manufacturing depends largely on scale, and Australia’s car production numbers have fallen. Efficient manufacturing depends largely on scale, and Australia’s car production numbers have fallen. AAP/Adi Weda

Car manufacturing numbers just don’t stack up

Now that the final nail has been hammered in to the car industry’s coffin, what does it mean for the Australian economy? As always, the data is a good place to start. Efficient manufacturing depends largely…
Prime Minister Tony Abbott is betting the rapid demise of Australia’s automotive sector can be contained politically. Prime Minister Tony Abbott is betting the rapid demise of Australia’s automotive sector can be contained politically. Alan Porritt/AAP

Managed decline to rapid demise: Abbott’s car industry gamble

For the past 30 years, Australian automotive industry policies can be characterised as managed decline. Beginning in the 1980s with the Button Plan, the aim of policy was to consolidate the industry and…
Global shift: one-in-three vehicles produced by Toyota are manufactured in Asia. Global shift: one-in-three vehicles produced by Toyota are manufactured in Asia. AAP

Toyota’s exit was inevitable: now for real test of government

Toyota Australia President and CEO, Max Yasuda, has described the car maker’s decision to leave Australia as one of the saddest days in its history worldwide. I do not doubt the emotion expressed by Mr…
The link between manufacturing cars and developing technology has been fundamental in Australia. The link between manufacturing cars and developing technology has been fundamental in Australia. AAP

Losing the car industry means we risk our technology

As I’ve argued before and it’s generally accepted, the car industry is a critical part of Australia’s science and technology base. The sector spends A$600 million a year on R&D and another $800 million…
Toyota has surprised with an announcement it would finish manufacturing cars here at the end of 2017. Toyota has surprised with an announcement it would finish manufacturing cars here at the end of 2017. AAP

Toyota names 2017 end, Australian car making to cease: experts react

Toyota has confirmed it will cease its vehicle and engine production in Australia by the end of 2017, signalling the end of automotive manufacturing in Australia. The announcement follows decisions by…
Graphene is an exciting and lucrative new industry – so why isn’t the Australian government funding local commercial development? Graphene is an exciting and lucrative new industry – so why isn’t the Australian government funding local commercial development? Hinkle Group

Graphene can pave the way for Australian manufacturing

Australian industries have reached a turning point. With old industries on the way out, the Australian manufacturing sector’s biggest challenge is to move from a low-cost mass production model to one that…
The right policy settings will drive Australia toward a creative economy that produces knowledge and information. The right policy settings will drive Australia toward a creative economy that produces knowledge and information. Paul Gorbould

From manufacturing’s ashes a creative economy could rise

General Motors Holden’s decision to pull the pin on its Melbourne manufacturing plant spurred renewed debate around government-subsidised industry sectors. But instead of throwing money into a flailing…
Toyota is the ‘last man standing’ in Australian car manufacturing, but it needs to shift from an ‘us and them’ approach to industrial relations. Toyota is the ‘last man standing’ in Australian car manufacturing, but it needs to shift from an ‘us and them’ approach to industrial relations. Alan Porritt/AAP

Toyota needs a new approach to avoid the road to nowhere

The Productivity Commission will today release the preliminary report of its inquiry into Australian automotive manufacturing industries, ensuring the future of car manufacturing in Australia continues…
Motoring executives and politicians have met to discuss assistance for the manufacturing sector, but they shouldn’t overlook the need for local leaders. Motoring executives and politicians have met to discuss assistance for the manufacturing sector, but they shouldn’t overlook the need for local leaders. Joe Castro/AAP

After Holden: think national, act local

The Abbott government has made its first move to assist the regions affected by Holden’s planned closure. A high-profile taskforce, to be led by prime minister Tony Abbott and include two other federal…
Toyota has a history of operational excellence in Australia. Toyota has a history of operational excellence in Australia. Joe Castro/AAP

Last ‘man’ standing: what now for Toyota in Australia?

Now that Ford and Holden have announced the 2017 closure of their Australian manufacturing and assembly operations, what are the prospects for the industry and its key remaining participant, Toyota? Unlike…
Those scrutinising government support of the car industry have changed their views over time. Those scrutinising government support of the car industry have changed their views over time. judepics/Flickr

Measuring the fallout of Holden’s ‘perfect storm’

For many decades, Australians have regarded a local car industry as a demonstration of our domestic capability. Sometimes, we have paid dearly for our enthusiasm. In the late 1970s, import quotas limited…
Does the Holden pull-out have to mean the death of Australian manufacturing? Does the Holden pull-out have to mean the death of Australian manufacturing? Daniel Munoz/AAP

The future of manufacturing: niche doesn’t need to be small

An unfortunate consequence of Holden and Ford’s decision to cease manufacturing cars in Australia is the negative impression that all local manufacturing is similarly doomed. Yet there are plenty of local…
The withdrawal of General Motors in Australia follows the step back of government support for GMH in the US. The withdrawal of General Motors in Australia follows the step back of government support for GMH in the US. Hugo90/Flickr

Moving on: Holden closure shows we need a new growth agenda

General Motors has confirmed it will cease manufacturing in Australia from 2017, citing a “perfect storm of negative influences”. GM chairman Dan Akerson said these forces include “the sustained strength…
What now for Holden workers? What now for Holden workers? Julian Smith/AAP

Walking away from Holden: Abbott finishes what Hewson started

“Building cars in Australia is just not sustainable.” That was GM Holden managing director Mike Devereux, announcing the closure of Holden. Ominous words for Toyota as well. Toyota responded that Holden’s…
Chairman and Managing Director of GM Holden, Mike Devereux, has confirmed the company will cease making cars here by 2017. Chairman and Managing Director of GM Holden, Mike Devereux, has confirmed the company will cease making cars here by 2017. Julian Smith/AAP

Holden to cease making cars in Australia by 2017: experts react

General Motors Holden has confirmed speculation it will withdraw from car production in Australia by the end of 2017. The announcement by Holden comes after days of sustained public speculation and calls…
Holden may shut up shop in Australia, and the government is already considering the fallout. Holden may shut up shop in Australia, and the government is already considering the fallout. Lukas Coch/AAP

Adding up the flow-on effects of a Holden closure

The idea of further government support for the ailing automotive industry (AKA the Holden problem) generates considerable political and economic debate. For economists and business academics, it comes…
3D printing holds many advantages for the manufacturing industry, including the ability to print moving parts. 3D printing holds many advantages for the manufacturing industry, including the ability to print moving parts. John Biehler

Can 3D printing rebuild manufacturing in Australia?

It’s not easy being a small business in the current manufacturing environment. The face of manufacturing is changing, and businesses are eager for technological advances that could give them a competitive…
The Australian car manufacturing industry is in trouble – but does the government provide less support than other countries? The Australian car manufacturing industry is in trouble – but does the government provide less support than other countries?

FactCheck: do other countries subsidise their car industry more than we do?

“By international standards our support [of the automotive industry] is modest, so we have to work hard to attract the new investment.” – Industry minister Senator Kim Carr, Lateline, 22 July. The idea…
The Rudd government’s changes to fringe benefit tax concessions on cars is good environmental policy, but bad news for the manufacturing sector. The Rudd government’s changes to fringe benefit tax concessions on cars is good environmental policy, but bad news for the manufacturing sector. AAP

Manufacturing threatened by Rudd’s changes to car tax deductions

The decision to terminate the statutory formula method under the fringe benefits tax regime will have significant ramifications on the car industry, the local car manufacturing industry and employment…
Australian manufacturing workers are feeling the heat of economic change. Australian manufacturing workers are feeling the heat of economic change.

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…
Should Australia go beyond exporting uranium “yellowcake” and consider fabricating nuclear fuel rods? Should Australia go beyond exporting uranium “yellowcake” and consider fabricating nuclear fuel rods? Flickr/NNSA News

Should Australia’s manufacturing future be nuclear?

It is not the first time in Australia’s economic history that a prevalent sector reaches its peak and gives way to a rapidly developing new one. However, while the mining and education sectors have apparently…
The trend of “mass customisation” will mean Australian factories will be very different places in the future. The trend of “mass customisation” will mean Australian factories will be very different places in the future. AAP

Will mass customisation change Australia’s manufacturing future?

Manufacturers across the world rely on economies from the scale of production to drive down unit cost. This “mass production” approach, focused on efficiency and uniformity of product, is feasible when…
The future of manufacturing lies in making high quality, niche products. The future of manufacturing lies in making high quality, niche products. Flickr\stevey b

Niche markets can breathe new life into manufacturing

Ford’s announcement that it will cease making cars in Australia is an enormous blow to manufacturing, and especially to the workers involved. But does it mean Australian manufacturing on its deathbed…
Ford’s impending shutdown of its car-making plants in Australia does not bode well for an already ailing manufacturing sector. Ford’s impending shutdown of its car-making plants in Australia does not bode well for an already ailing manufacturing sector. AAP

Ford’s exit spells the end of the road for manufacturing

“You’ll never see Japanese cars in an RSL car park.” That was Bill Bourke, Ford Australia’s sales supremo of the ’60s. Bourke was wrong. Dead wrong. In 2016, Ford will cease manufacturing in Australia…
Nearly half of Australian adults are functionally illiterate, with manufacturing workers having some of the country’s lowest literacy levels, a significant issue as the industry continues to shed jobs. Nearly half of Australian adults are functionally illiterate, with manufacturing workers having some of the country’s lowest literacy levels, a significant issue as the industry continues to shed jobs. AAP Image/Julian Smith

The future for Ford workers: literacy will be key

Yesterday’s announcement that Ford will close its manufacturing operations in Geelong and Broadmeadows by 2016 at the cost of 1,200 jobs raises questions of what the workers' future employment options…
Ford Australia has announced it will pull its car production out of Australia by 2016, with the loss of 1200 manufacturing jobs. Ford Australia has announced it will pull its car production out of Australia by 2016, with the loss of 1200 manufacturing jobs.

Ford to pull out of car production in Australia: expert reaction

The future of Australia’s auto manufacturing industry is under a heavy cloud after Ford’s announcement that it would cease its manufacturing operations in Australia by 2016. Ford Australia president Bob…
Recent redundancies at Holden have sparked debate over the need for a revised “industry policy”: but is this really the way forward? Recent redundancies at Holden have sparked debate over the need for a revised “industry policy”: but is this really the way forward? AAP/Andrew Brownbill

Industry policy must not second guess markets

The recent GM-Holden redundancies have provoked much comment, in many cases appealing for both state and federal governments to find solutions. But can government solve this dilemma, or is it a (big) part…
The government’s handling of the automotive industry underestimates its potential strategic importance to the Australian economy. The government’s handling of the automotive industry underestimates its potential strategic importance to the Australian economy. AAP

Is supporting the car industry so expensive, compared to our heavily subsidised lives?

Holden’s announcement of job cuts on Monday demonstrates the dual impacts of the strong Australian dollar and import penetration upon the beleaguered domestic automotive industry. 400 jobs will go in Adelaide…
The Gillard government’s Industry and Innovation Statement aims to revive an ailing manufacturing sector and address Australia’s flagging productivity. The Gillard government’s Industry and Innovation Statement aims to revive an ailing manufacturing sector and address Australia’s flagging productivity. AAP

Labor’s innovation plan provides hope for Australian manufacturing

While its launch in the heat of election battle was hardly propitious, the federal government’s new Industry and Innovation Statement, A Plan for Australian Jobs, is the long-awaited result of a serious…
Focusing on Australian electricity competitiveness will drive valuable investment in electricity-intensive industry. Focusing on Australian electricity competitiveness will drive valuable investment in electricity-intensive industry. Jake Trussell

Australian electricity must get more competitive: here’s how

Electricity-intensive investment isn’t coming Australia’s way. We use our many natural resources to underpin our productivity and prosperity and we are extracting increasing amounts of metal from the ground…
Assistive robots could help save Australia’s beleaguered manufacturing industry. Assistive robots could help save Australia’s beleaguered manufacturing industry. CSIRO

Why the Australian manufacturing industry needs the next generation of robots

Amid the gloom about the prospects for manufacturing in Australia — and the difficulties facing an economy dominated by small businesses (nearly 90% of Australian manufacturing capacity) — there is some…
Three recent reports into productivity highlight differing issues but agree that targeting industrial reform is not the key to lifting outputs. Three recent reports into productivity highlight differing issues but agree that targeting industrial reform is not the key to lifting outputs. Image sourced from www.shutterstock.com

Changing work practices alone will not boost productivity

The Australian Government’s recently released white paper on Australia in the Asian Century identified productivity as one of five key areas for action, at a time when we are engaged in a major national…
With the government embroiled in an argument about how the level of car subsidies it pays, it’s time for a cost-benefit analysis that factors in the industry’s economic flow-on effects. With the government embroiled in an argument about how the level of car subsidies it pays, it’s time for a cost-benefit analysis that factors in the industry’s economic flow-on effects.

Concentrating on the costs of the car industry means we are failing to see the benefits

There are four facts we have all become aware of in the past few days – if not months – regarding car manufacturing subsidies. Fact 1: A lot of money has been given to Australian car manufacturers over…

Research and News (1)