25 October 2020
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Move over Bob the Builder, Morrison the Manufacturer is coming to town!

Peter Switzer
1 October 2020

Move over Bob the Builder, it’s Morrison the Manufacturer and Josh the Jobmaker, with the Budget set to breathe life into our long-neglected manufacturing sector. In a speech today (ahead of next Tuesday’s Budget), the PM will tell us how manufacturing will be the platform for hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Many Australians have lamented the death of manufacturing in Australia for decades and the end of car making was a classic case that riled a lot of Aussies.

They say threats create opportunities and the Coronavirus has prompted the Morrison Government to recommit to manufacturing to create 80,000 direct jobs and 300,000 indirect jobs in related businesses.

In today’s speech, ‘Morro the Manufacturer’ will pre-empt next Tuesday’s Budget, telling us that six priority sectors will receive the new funding — resources technology and minerals processing, food and beverage manufacturing, medical products, clean energy and recycling, defence and space.

And to prove he’s fair dinkum about his dream of manufacturing jobs, the Budget will throw $1.5 billion at the initiative. But that’s not the end of the potential positive consequences of the plan,

with BHP announcing a supportive programme, which will involve an $800 million spend to enhance skills, engineering and technology, creating 2,500 apprenticeships and trainees.

A crisis is sometimes needed to get politicians off their butts to do something impressive, taking us where no government has had the guts and drive to take us — back into manufacturing. This could be a ‘make it or break it’ strategy for this Government.

If it proves to be hot air, voters might not easily forget it. But if this plan works, it will be a big political plus for a guy who has thrown off the popularity problems of his Hawaiian holiday as bushfires raged and has won national support for his handling of the Coronavirus.

Next Tuesday’s Budget must be the real deal.

There has to be plenty of money spent that gets into the hands of consumers who’ll spend and businesses that will invest and create jobs.

And for those cynics who say we can’t do manufacturing, if you look at the areas targeted by the Government, it’s not old, cheap, factory-based manufacturing.

Let’s quickly look at the sectors in question:

  1. Resources technology and minerals processing: we have a world class mining sector. 
  2. Food and beverage manufacturing: China can’t get enough of our food and beverage products.
  3. Medical products: CSL is the world’s best in its sector.
  4. Clean energy and recycling: we’re have everything from fossil fuels to solar to other renewables.
  5. Defence: this is a sector with potential. In fact, in 2018, the total value of Australian defence exports was around A$2 billion a year, making Australia the 20th largest exporter of defence goods and services in the world.
  6. Space: if you don’t think we have potential here, listen to my interview with Adam Gilmour of Gilmour Space. I wish this company was listed, because I’d invest in it, given its potential.

What the Government is doing is right for our world crashed by the Coronavirus. We have to be positive. We have to think outside the square and take inspiration from JFK and famous US disc jockey, Casey Kasem.

John F. Kennedy, borrowed these words from Irish author George Bernard Shaw but they are relevant, when you think about what the PM is trying to do: “You see things; and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why not?’”

And Kasem used to end his weekly American Top 40 radio show with something I’ve never forgotten. He’d advise us to: “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”  Go Australia!

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