Labor launches Buy Australian campaign

The Federal Government has launched a $53 million Buy Australian campaign in a bid to prop up local manufacturers, but it’s unclear how many manufacturers will benefit from the program.


Earlier this week, the Government flagged a new push to promote Australian-made materials as it comes under pressure over massive job cuts in the manufacturing industry.


More than 1,400 steel workers have lost their jobs after BlueScope Steel said it would shed 1,000 staff in NSW and Victoria, triggering a $100 million assistance package from the Government.


Australian Workers’ Union secretary Paul Howes says Australia is facing a manufacturing crisis.


A tax forum in October will consider assistance measures for struggling sectors, including manufacturing and tourism, which are being hurt by the strong Australian dollar.


But in a bid to hush critics beforehand, the Government has launched a $53 million program titled Buy Australian at Home and Abroad, designed to prop up Australian suppliers.


The Government has enlisted the help of former Queensland Premier Peter Beattie to champion local manufacturers.


However, Beattie couldn’t confirm how many manufacturers will receive help under the program and how this help will be delivered.


“What I need to do, and what I will do, is get out and talk with the industry, which I’ve already started doing… From there, we will target specific markets,” Beattie told a press conference.


Innovation Minister Kim Carr told the conference that while the Government wants to ensure every local manufacturer gets “a fair go”, they must be internationally competitive.


“We’re not trying to go back to something in the past – some old illusion that people have about what Australia was in the 1950s,” he said.


“Australia has employed the better part of a million people in manufacturing since 1960. Australian manufacturing is extraordinarily resilient… [and] is renowned for its creativity.”


Carr is confident local manufacturers will “weather this storm”, claiming the Buy Australian campaign is one small measure of helping companies.


The Government has made it clear that struggling sectors cannot rely on assistance measures, with Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson reminding companies “there’s no handout mentality”.


“It’s not just in manufacturing; it is across the board… The tourism sector – we’ve got to continually invest, innovate and create new product,” he told the conference.


“The world is not standing still. There are improvements in productivity, investment in R&D and innovation overseas… You’ve got to be competitive. You have got to come up to scratch.”


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