Appeal to manufacturers closes March 31, Canberra defends actions

The federal government’s call for information from manufacturers who could contribute to the fight against Covid-19 coronavirus closes tomorrow.

While the call has been criticised as late in a pandemic which first appeared in China in December, it is the best opportunity available to get the attention of decision makers at the national level.

The government is seeking makers of medical personal protective equipment (PPE) such as surgical gowns, gloves, goggles, hand sanitisers, clinical waste bags, waste bag closure devices (ties), blood and fluid spill kits, mask fit test kits and thermometers.

Industry minister Karen Andrews addressed the timing of her actions on ABC News 24 on Friday.

She told Patricia Karvelas: “We’ve been working on this for several weeks now.

“We did put out a request for information where we went more broadly than our known suppliers.

“And we were also looking for other manufacturers that could potentially step up and start producing some of those goods.”

Andrews also said she had hosted a meeting with her state industry minister counterparts.

“We met a day or so ago to talk through how we were going to coordinate production and manufacturing of essential items here in Australia.

“So, each state and territory will continue to do their procurement as they have done and so they’ll continue that.

“But we will look at making sure that there’s a coordinated effort and that we know what product are available in Australia and we work out ways that we can distribute them to where they are needed most.”

Responding to questions about the availability of ventilators Andrews said the government was working with four existing and potential manufacturers to increase supply.

“We know that there is a lot of concern about ventilators, so we have placed orders for some ventilators.

“But we’ve also gone very wide as well to search out where we have ventilators that we could repurpose, where we could remanufacture some of those ventilators so that they then become invasive machines rather than non-invasive machines.”

Two government related initiatives to bring manufacturers into the pandemic fight also got underway.

The first from the Industry Capability Network is a forum where manufacturers can find information about government requirements as they tackle the spread of Covid-19.

The second from the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre is a portal for Australian manufacturing, component suppliers and skilled design, engineering and manufacturing experts to register their interest and core competencies in support of the national response to COVID-19.

Picture: Karen Andrews

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