The Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council has commended the Government’s decision to fund the Western Sydney airport and a $10 billion national rail program, as well as its commitment to future skills development.
The government has revealed a $75 billion decade-long infrastructure spending spree as the centrepiece of its economic growth plan.
“These measures are all about our national competitiveness,” AAMC chairman, Mr John Pollaers, said.
Plans include $8.4 billion earmarked for the Melbourne to Brisbane inland rail link, $5.3 billion for Sydney’s second airport at Badgerys Creek, and upgrades for Queensland’s Bruce Highway and Western Australia infrastructure.
Treasurer Scott Morrison promised $5.3 billion in equity over the next 10 years for the new airport.
A Western Sydney airport will be a magnet for economic growth, Mr Pollaers said, and this truly major airport on an international scale, with the proposed surrounding industrial and university precincts, will provide a much-needed decentralised hub for manufacturing for the future.
“I commend the Government for the courage and foresight to ensure that it happens,” said Mr Pollaers.
The Inland rail and other rail initiatives would increase industry efficiencies and competitiveness and ensure we are less dependent on road freight , he said.
“We would urge the Government to plan for important technology developments like the Hyperloop, and for self-driving mobility, while they are evolving these infrastructure programs,” Mr Pollaers said.
“New airports and rail corridors are the perfect greenfield to build these things in – a way to put Australian infrastructure at the forefront in the world.”
Meanwhile, the strong focus on skills development in the 2017-18 Budget was a “measure of clear-headed foresight and appreciation of the need to build our competitive edge,” Mr Pollaers said.
“Unless we have a strong underpinning of 21st Century skills and education, we will not attract the much-needed international investments. The biggest thing companies are looking for is the right talent. The key factor that will lead Australia into a diversified sustainable economic future is skills,” Mr Pollaers said.
Other countries are doing similar things to Australia, but not all of them have the skills needed, he said.
The Government’s investment of $1.5 billion over four years from 2017-18 to establish a permanent Skilling Australians Fund to support the skilling of Australian workers, was “an enormously important and critical measure.”
“We were very encouraged to see the focus on high value manufacturing in the announcement of $100 million for the Advanced Manufacturing Fund.
This would do an enormous amount to support design and engineering, and Australia’s transition to greater global competitiveness, Mr Pollaers said.