The Australian manufacturing sector has endured hard times, especially in the past few years, with many factories closing or conducting job cutbacks.
The Manufacturing Matters conference held at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday addressed this topic. Speaking at the conference, shadow industry minister Kim Carr, insisted that Australia can revive its automotive industry – but warned it will look very different.
Some audience members at the event described the decisions which led Australia's automotive sector to the brink of closure as the most dire in the country's history, but Carr said that there is still hope for the rebuilding of the sector, even in light of Toyota's scheduled shutdown later this year.
Carr said that although Australia probably will not be making fully-produced vehicles anymore, there are numerous manufacturers making a significant contribution to the supply chain. He drew comparison to the car industry in the UK, where in the 1980s, major foreign automakers established factories.
“After the Margaret Thatcher era, it took a long time for the country to understand what they had lost [in the automotive industry],” Carr said.
“If you look at the country now, across the political system the automotive sector is critical to the UK’s manufacturing capability.
“They have rebuilt a manufacturing industry and is now one of the largest automotive exporters in Europe.
“It proves there is the capacity to rebuild and we would have to think hard about the different ways we could do it [in Australia]. I am up for that.”