Australia's peak body representing ICT, electronics and the electrical manufacturing industries yesterday released its policy mandate for the 2007 federal election.
Dubbed the Federal Election 2007 Policy Reform Imperatives, the Australian Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers Association (AEEMA) released a long term vision for the high-tech manufacturing sector.
Releasing the report in Canberra, AEEMA CEO, Angus Robinson, said the federal government has a responsibility to more effectively devise and articulate a clear strategy for the critical place that high value, wealth-creating manufacturing occupies in the country's economic future.
"Backing winning industries in market ready sectors such as renewable energy, automotive telematics, e-health and logistics management should be an imperative for the government," Robinson said.
"Manufacturing in Australia requires a more flexible, foreward looking policy framework that will encourage more local and overseas investment to realise global opportunities.
"Today, manufacturing firms operate in one of the most competitive markets in the world. Industrialissed countries are competing in high value, innovative products and ground-breaking new processes and services. Developing nations are driving costs down and penetrating traditional markets with competitive imports.
"Against this new landscape, government must revisit policy settings and increase economic reform so that manufacturers can adapt to the newe challenges arising from global competition and complex trading relationships."
The report focuses on seven key themes: product stewardship; skills; innovation; trade; export facilitation; regulation; national broadband.
Robinson said too much of the nation's public expenditure is being devoted to pure science and technology development, much of which is increasingly being replicated elsewhere in the world.
"Australia's focus must move from mere technology development to technology integration - from pure science to more market-facing product realisation and production," he said.
"AEEMA is calling on both sides of politics to develop policy platforms that support our manufacturing industries and realise Australia's economic potential."
Initiatives included in the report include developing robust data to enable the mapping of current skills capability to that of current needs and to predict future skills needs.
Robinson said there should be opportunities for primary students to be mentored by professional engineers and scientists.
This is in addition to the establishment of a database which alerts Australian businesses to opportunities in targeted sectors.
The AEEMA also called for increased funding for the Export Market Development Scheme (EMDS) managed by Austrade.
However, Federal Trade Minister, Mark Vaile, said legislation was introduced last year to extend the EMDS for another five years through to the 2010/11 financial year.
The report congratulated state governments in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia for implementing fully funded manufacturing strategies.
To view the report go to www.aeema.asn.au