Forty years ago, a quarter of Australian workers were employed in manufacturing industry. Today the figure is less than ten per cent.
As manufacturers across the country continue to battle crippling costs, La Trobe University has posed the question – does manufacturing in Australia have a future and if so, what does it look like?
On Wednesday 3 September 2014, a panel of distinguished experts in the fields of economics, industry policy and trade unionism will attempt to answer the question at La Trobe's leading intellectual forum for debate, the Ideas and Society Program.
Professor Ross Garnaut, Professor Roy Green and Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) Secretary Dave Oliver will discuss the current climate in manufacturing along with Ideas and Society Program convenor, Professor Robert Manne.
'In recent times the three most important car manufacturers - GMH, Ford and Toyota - have announced their decisions to stop manufacturing in Australia,' Professor Manne said.
'The impending closure of the Australian car industry has raised the question in many minds: does manufacturing have a future in Australia?
'Professor Ross Garnaut, one of Australia's most prominent and respected economists, will outline general economic difficulties facing the manufacturing sector.
'Professor Roy Green, the leading expert in the field of Australian manufacturing policy, will outline the present and future possibilities. Dave Oliver, Secretary of the ACTU, will examine the sector from the perspective of the workforce and the positive role it can play in securing its future.'
La Trobe University Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Jane Long will chair the discussion.
Professor Garnaut is a Professional Research Fellow in Economics at The University of Melbourne. His career is built around the analysis and practice of policy connected to economic development and international relations in the Asia Pacific. He has authored or edited 47 books and numerous articles on international economics, public finance and economic development.
Professor Roy Green is Dean of the Business School at UTS Sydney and in 2012 was part of the Prime Minister's Manufacturing Taskforce report Smarter Manufacturing for a Smarter Australia. He was recently appointed to the new Manufacturing Leaders Group and also led Australian participation in a global study, Manufacturing Matters for Australia – just how productive are we?
Dave Oliver has been Secretary of the ACTU since 2012. After 10 years as a union site delegate and activist with a passion for safety and asbestos issues, he became an organizer with the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) in 1988. Dave led campaigns to protect workers' entitlements as a NSW Branch official before becoming Assistant National Secretary and then Victorian Branch Secretary in 2002.
What: Ideas and Society event: Does Manufacturing in Australia Have a Future?
When: 12.30-2pm, Wednesday 3 September 2014
Where: John Scott Meeting House, La Trobe University Bundoora Campus
Leah Humphrys, Media and Communications Officer
T + 61 3 9479 5353
Image: Alex Eflon