Today federal industry minister Karen Andrews will discuss local manufacturing’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and what happens next, and is expected to argue for government’s role in procurement of critical supplies and the removal of red tape, but not in promoting “complete self-sufficiency.”
Andrews will address the National Press Club at 12.30 Canberra time on “Australian manufacturing in a post-Covid world”. The ABC reports that she will praise the local sector’s response in producing much-needed medical equipment.
“When we first began preparing for this crisis I was told that Australia would not be able to make more than about 37 million surgical masks a year – we’re now expecting to produce more than 200 million this year,” Andrews is expected to say.
“Capability exists in this country. What was needed was a change in the culture of how we think about our capability, about how we challenge the status quo.”
There was a “groundswell of community support” for Australian-made goods, and this – and increased procurement of critical supplies – would boost manufacturing. However, the future “must be enterprise-driven” and “history has proven the folly” of nationalising entities.
The minister is also expected to rule out increasing R&D tax incentives, according to The Australian Financial Review. Removing red tape would be suggested as a way to strengthen the sector without using public money.
“[Industry group] Manufacturing Australia cite the fact that a factory can be proposed, approved, built and operational in America in less time than it takes to jump the very first approval hurdle in Australia,” she will say.
“That’s simply not good enough.”
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