Senate Inquiry into sovereign manufacturing report released

The needs of biotech manufacturing have been reflected in the recommendations outlined in the Economics References Committee’s Inquiry into the Australian Manufacturing Industry’s report that was released this week.

Acknowledging the evolution in manufacturing, from heavy industrial to high-technology goods such as “sophisticated health-care equipment”, the majority report offers 19 recommendations to strengthen Australia’s manufacturing capacity and capabilities.

While the view that the manufacturing sector is important to Australia was shared, the dissenting report by the Liberal senators disagreed with a number of the recommendations, demonstrating that Australia’s sovereign manufacturing is becoming a key election issue as campaigning begins ahead of the upcoming Federal elections.

The Senate Inquiry has considered the Australian manufacturing industry, including: current and future economic growth drivers, capacity, national resilience, new areas Australia can establish itself as a global leader, and the role that government can play in assisting our domestic manufacturing industry, including R&D, attracting investment, supply chain support, government procurement, trade policy, and skills and training.

Through written submission and verbal evidence, Australia’s opportunity to harness the important and emerging cell and gene therapies, or regenerative medicines (RM), sector was promoted through the joint submission of AusBiotech, Cell Therapies Ltd, Research Strategies Australia, and MTPConnect.

The Inquiry report noted these emerging opportunities that are disrupting the manufacturing industry, and the work that is still required for Australia to harness them, specifically the training and skills needed to develop the talent pipeline.

The substantial growth in the RM sector has revealed a significant manufacturing capacity shortage. Right now, global manufacturing capacity is not meeting demand and it is approximated that five-times the current capacity is required.

Building Australia’s sovereign manufacturing capability for complex and advanced RM Therapies will ensure equitable access to cutting-edge treatments for Australian patients, create new jobs now and for the future, and develop a highly skilled workforce.

The joint submission utilised insights from and promoted the work of the AusBiotech-led Consortium project that has been developing resources to build the foundations of RM in Australia.

The Senate Inquiry recommendations included:

  • Periodic reviews of R&D, commercialisation, and investment incentives and tax arrangements to ensure they facilitate the growth of Australia’s manufacturing industry and investment
  • Establishment of a Manufacturing Industry Fund to provide a range of co-investment incentives to the manufacturing industry in conjunction with the private sector.
  • Significant increases to manufacturing R&D and commercialisation support to improve international competitiveness and stimulate the development of self-sustaining manufacturing ecosystems, including the establishment of an expert working group, with industry representation, to support the design and implementation of the patent box scheme; and through the establishment of a Research Translation Fund to fund large projects which encourage R&D and the commercialisation of innovative products, processes, and services.
  • That Government tenders preference bidders who have sustainable supply chains that maximise the use of local suppliers, manufacturers, and service providers and which are committed to developing the domestic manufacturing industry, and that are sustainable.
  • Federal and State Governments adopt procurement policies which maximise both domestic production and the provision of local jobs, and that the Commonwealth take on a more active role in facilitating national coordination in industry development, so as to ensure that multiple states are not all trying to replicate identical outcomes when a differentiated result which leverages each state’s existing strengths and assets may be more preferable.
  • Establish a working group with representatives from both employers and unions to examine policy options to secure and strengthen domestic pharmaceutical supply chains.

As the national voice of the biotech industry, AusBiotech champions advocacy and regularly submits responses to policy consultations on behalf of the sector. Read AusBiotech’s submissions here.

Read the complete Senate Inquiry report here.

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