Blackbook Executive

Expert says we can build a new manufacturing industry

AUSTRALIA can become a hub for advanced manufacturing but is being held back by a “defeatist attitude” that has taken hold since its carmakers closed, an industry expert says.

BAE Systems Australia chief executive Glynn Phillips says there is no future for low-cost, high-volume manufacturing in Australia but the nation’s massive investment in defence can pave the way for an advanced manufacturing sector that is globally competitive.

“The reality of our high-wage economy and geographic remoteness suggests that our success in manufacturing comes from being better,” Mr Phillips told a Committee for Economic Development of Australia event in Melbourne on Tuesday.

Mr Phillips said a planned $195 billion investment in defence over the decade to June 2026 could underpin “a high technology, advanced manufacturing future” for Australia.

“Make no mistake, a future as a global hub for advanced manufacturing is within our grasp,” he said.

“Australia is on the doorstep of Asia at a time of unprecedented industrialisation and urbanisation and we have many of the necessary skills and capabilities.”

Glynn Phillips BAE SystemsBAE Systems Australia chief executive Glynn Phillips.

Mr Phillips said while the future of Australian manufacturing rested in being smarter, the nation could compete globally.

“Unfortunately, the sector is being held back by the defeatist attitude that has prevailed since automotive manufacturing began winding down,” he said.

“For developed countries like Australia, competing in the high volume production markets against developing countries is difficult.”

“It is important that we focus on industries that demand a highly skilled workforce. That is where we get the competitive advantage.”

Mr Phillips said BAE Systems would hire between 4000 and 5000 new workers if it won a number of large defence contracts under consideration.

It has pledged to create a new defence hub at the former Holden factory at Fishermans Bend in Melbourne if it wins a contract to build a new generation of combat reconnaissance vehicles.

Mr Phillips delivered the speech as it emerged the British defence titan was the company that lost a 1000-page security manual of Parliament House.

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