13th National Congress Resolution on the Manufacturing Industry
The manufacturing industry is an enormous, vital and essential component of a fully functioning modern state, it is embedded in every aspect of national identity and operation, economic, political, social & cultural.
The lack of or even the serious deterioration of a manufacturing base will undermine the national sovereignty of a nation, increase its dependence on foreign monopoly capitalism and almost certainly, over time, guarantee a third world level status.
Economically and industrially, manufacturing capacity is the life blood of any nation, it is central to the economic and political independence of Australia. Manufacturing is the conduit for every endeavour in building the nation, integral to the aspirations of all other sectors, service, construction, agribusiness, transport, medical and healthcare, food production, communications, mining and resources, housing, renewable energy, shipping, aviation etc. The fact that manufacturing is based on a great diversity of local small and medium owners means it is the least monopolised sector and therefore the least protected. If manufacturing is indeed virtually destroyed, the task of rebuilding it will be a truly Herculean one. For those like us, promoting the goal of an independent Australia, this is of grave concern.
The decline of Australian manufacturing is not an aberration, it is not an accident. Australian manufacturing’s accelerating decimation is systematic, targeted and absolutely deliberate. The globalised economy being foisted upon the people of the world by imperialism sets an agenda for plunder on an unprecedented world scale, driven by the escalating rivalry between the US, China, Europe, Japan and Russia. It has ignited a desperate frenzy to seize and control the resources and markets of lesser nations such as Australia.
The long term condition of the traditional non-resource, non-agribusiness national economy of Australia is of minimal interest to world imperialism, which requires a subservient and stable government, highly efficient communications and transport systems (including ports), a minimum level of service industry capacity and the necessary skilled work force to go with it. And, in the case of the US, a highly trained and readily available military force totally embedded into their own military strategic thinking.
Likewise the national consumer market of Australia (which is shrinking) is a drop in the ocean on the radar of the globalised economy. The consumer market is of vital concern to national capitalism and the present level of decline is effecting even the biggest of the local manufacturers, suppliers and retailers with subsequent roll-on effects of growing unemployment, business slowdowns and closures.
A great fuss is made of the effect of the very high Australian dollar, but the decimation of Australian manufacturing predates this recent development by decades. Both Liberal and Labor governments have slavishly delivered up local manufacturing to be mauled by free trade agreements, deregulation, the wholesale removal of tariffs and protections. The so called ‘Level Playing field’ is endlessly promoted along with the exhortation for industry to embrace new technology and to be more innovative!
Two Australian manufacturers of steel walkway products, Weldlock & Web Forge, with workforces in several states, produce standard lengths of walkway which sell for $630. The same product landed from China sells for $117! They’re still waiting to hear just exactly how they can ‘innovate’ around this problem. It’s a sure bet that both of these companies will cease to be manufacturers and become importers and distributors.
Like a B grade movie the sorry plot rolls on to its inevitable ending. The Gillard government trumpets its concern for the ailing automotive industry which has always been high profile (and completely foreign owned), although in truth only a shadow of its former glory. Gillard feigns concern for the plight of manufacturing, but completely ignores the myriad smaller concerns that are the actual backbone of the manufacturing industry. Small business is the single biggest employer in the country and manufacturing in all its guises is a central component of it. The Federal Minister for Manufacturing is not even in the inner caucus of cabinet! The Defence Department hands the contract for the new generation of army trucks to a German manufacturer over the locally developed and tested product. It’s hard to imagine any other developed nation allowing such a thing to occur. Unions are fighting to force the government to insist that the foreign owned mining companies source their manufactures in Australia, which should be a given.
Whenever Australians are surveyed re the plight of manufacturing they universally declare their support for the protection of Australian industry. This view remains embedded in the Australian psyche despite the headlong rush to consume cheap imported manufactures.
Australia is blessed with abundant natural resources, mostly and increasingly in foreign hands, and despite government exhortations to embrace ‘clever’ technologies, they offer no leadership, no encouragement, no incentive, and no plans to get value-adding industries into the big picture. Yet every day value-added manufactures are flooding into the country, everything from nuts and bolts to processed pork.
That the CPA (M-L) recognises that the decimation of Australian manufacturing: -
•Is the direct & deliberate result of foreign imperialist domination of the country
•Is a national calamity that has the potential, if left unchecked to undermine the country’s position as a developed country, increase our dependency & decrease national sovereignty
•Requires our comrades to engage effectively and where ever practicable with all elements involved with Australian manufacturing, workers, employers, unions and communities in highlighting and exposing the true extent of the consequences of the onslaught on Australian manufacturing
•Requires our comrades to encourage debate and awareness of free trade agreements, tariffs and industry protection in the broader community.