Australia has an increasing imbalance between the economic contribution from its “residents” and the cost of providing social services and government administration. Are there lessons we can learn from the past and how do we move forward?
In the mid 1990’s Australia lost most of its manufacturing base. Not only were jobs lost, but the need for highly specialised skills, together with the problem solving expertise to create unique innovative solutions in these industries evaporated. The car industry limped on under the “Button Car Plan” with government incentives to share components such as body pressings. Entities like Kellogg, with raw materials on its door step, changed structures and redefined traditional “jobs” to outcome based contributing elements (positions), empowering their employees. Whilst Kellogg’s workforce nearly halved at the time, some manufacturing was retained and survived a further 20 years.
Government reviews at the time considered what options could be adopted to retain some of the exiting manufacturers as competitive businesses. The findings in each sector were similar; firstly the need for investment in new technology including robotic processing, and, secondly the production and processing scales for efficiency were many times the Australian domestic demand at that time.
I remember being at a presentation for new piece of equipment for a communication company. When a slide showing the optimum output for the smallest model was displayed the CEO thought there was a misprint on the capacity as the minimum recommended output was 10 times what they required and they thought they were big a player. The equipment supplier then suggested they [...]