Labor-led committee calls for manufacturing commissioner

Brandon How

A Labor-controlled parliamentary committee has recommended that a National Advanced Manufacturing Commissioner be appointed to promote ‘sovereign, smart, sustainable’ domestic manufacturing.

The national role would facilitate nationwide advanced manufacturing policy and program coordination, the House Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Resources said in a inquiry report tabled on Thursday.

The Office of the National Advanced Manufacturing Commissioner could also serve as a “single, high-profile ‘shopfront’” for manufacturing support programs and a concierge service for small manufacturers.


The proposal is one of 10 recommendations in the report from the developing advanced manufacturing in Australia inquiry, which was initiated in February following a referral by Industry minister Ed Husic.

It comes more than a month after the New South Wales Labor government culled its inaugural Modern Manufacturing Commissioner, after just a year in existence.

In the report, the committee noted that it “heard repeated appeals for a more joined up approach to manufacturing industry support” between government portfolios and between the federal and state governments.

Other policy recommendations made by the committee include production incentives for Australian advanced manufacturing and a “a series of significant government-owned advanced manufacturing common user facilities in strategic locations across Australia”.

The committee also recommended that the government build on the Buy Australian Plan to support increased local manufactured content procurement in areas such as renewable energy and medical supplies.

Committee chair and Labor member for McEwen Rob Mitchell said in the report’s foreword that “many of the recommendations are aimed at better supporting small- and medium-sized manufacturers”.

“Getting this right means high-quality jobs for a new generation of skilled tradespeople and university graduates. It means more world-competitive businesses exporting Australian know-how to the world,” Mr Mitchell said.

“It means a more diverse and resilient export basket. And it means strong sovereign capabilities, to keep our society and economy thriving through any future challenges.”

The committee flagged that even though there is “high-level policy consensus” across the political spectrum and levels of government for supporting advanced manufacturing, “the disjointed approach to delivery makes government support more challenging to navigate”.

The benefits of national harmonisation for advanced manufacturing growth are also discussed in the report. This includes the potential to harmonise inter-state clinical trials regulation for medicine manufacturers as well as federal-state coordination of investment in innovation precincts and common user facilities.

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