Analysis and Commentary

Our search for Australia’s 50 most innovative manufacturers – Roy Green talks innovation policy

Analysis and Commentary

On Monday @AuManufacturing officially launched our search to identify Australia’s 50 most innovative manufacturers with a live webinar featuring UTS, Sydney Emeritus Professor Roy Green. Here, Green identifies a core issue – the absence of a national, coherent and coordinated industry policy.

Question? You often make the point that we need to develop and deploy a national industry policy – so where are we going as a country?

Roy Green: “We seem to be heading tentatively in the right direction – whether we are doing enough is another matter.

“We seem to have been treading water since at least the period of the commodity boom. We saw some big steps taken during the 1980s and 1990s associated with the tariff reductions to make our industries more competitive in global markets.

“We took some backward steps then, and have trodden water since around 2012.

“As we know we had a revolving door of industry ministers – eight ministers in nine years or nine ministers if you count the surreptitious portfolio of the Prime Minister.”

Question? How has the election of a new government in Canberra changed things?

Roy Green: “We now have a new government which is committed to sovereign capability, committed to building up Australia’s role in manufacturing, exports and supply chains.

“And we have what is central to what is, I think, in Australia a new approach to industry which is to use a National Reconstruction Fund to provide co-investment along with industry itself.

“It is not a grant funding body, it is to invest in equity and provide loan guarantees. Of course there will still be a role for grant funding and there will be a role for tax credits such as the Research and Development Tax Incentive (RDTI).

“But the most important thing is not just the funding – it is to get the structures right.

“The structures have been allowed to fragment, with every new minister slicing and dicing programmes so that they can have a launch of shiny new things.

“Now is the time to pull it all together and not just with the Commonwealth, but in conjunction with the states who have shown themselves willing to play a part in national industry policy – to date we really haven’t had the co-ordination or the coherence to make that happen.”

Question: The passage of legislation for the National Reconstruction Fund has run into a few problems, with the federal opposition opposing its passage, and the Greens demanding changes. What happens now?

“A compromise will have to be found and it is taking up a lot of valuable time. But once it is passed I think the attention will then turn to the rest of the national innovation system.

“We also have the review of universities by (Chair of the NSW Independent Planning Commission) Professor Mary O’Kane coming up, and it shows a lot of what we need to do is spread across a number of portfolios across government.

“So what what I would hope for and what I fully expect the government to pay attention to is the development of a whole of government approach to industry and innovation policy.

“It just can’t be done in one portfolio. It requires the industry portfolio, the education portfolio and skills, and indeed the climate change and energy transition portfolios to work together, co-ordinated to some extant by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Picture: Roy Green

Is you company one of Australia’s 50 most innovative manufacturers? We want to hear from you.



Australia’s 50 Most Innovative Manufacturers is a new campaign by @AuManufacturing. It has been made possible by the generous support of  MYOB, SMC Corporation Australia, and Bosch Australia Manufacturing Solutions. Be sure to check back at this website for regular updates  including profiles of nominees and other information.


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