Should Manufacturing be considered National Security?
When looking at the multiple items on the National Security agenda, very little is spoken about securing our Manufacturing borders.
If the current pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that global supply chains can crumble in an instant and when it comes to National Security and times of war, if you can’t get goods in and out, what then?
The governments are all big on defence spending, however, very little is spoken about securing the manufacturing sector if there is a conflict that comes to our shores.
How much of the critical and essential processed materials and goods do we make in Australia and can we fulfil that capacity if supply chains were cut?
Without doing any detailed analysis, over time, most goods are being purchased overseas, so in the event of supply chains being cut, if we can’t produce the goods to keep our economy running and people fed, what’s the point?
We don’t make cars anymore, how much other machines do we make locally to support industry?
Automotive, textiles, electronics, machinery, and many other essential items are not made in Australia anymore, and many Australian manufacturers rely on imports to produce products, so shouldn’t the government be preparing for a worst case scenario, protect and grow these industries during peacetime?
Where are Materials Processed?
Then if we did have all those industries online to meet demand, how can we fuel them if our oil, gas and minerals are shipped offshore for processing?
Australia has 4 local oil refineries that is currently only meeting around 65% of petroleum needs, half the demand for transport and less for other sectors, leaving a gap, especially if we needed capacity to increase.
If we can’t produce enough or get refined fuel into the country for industries needing petroleum based materials, it doesn’t matter how many facilities we have, they won’t operate and agriculture is still dependent on diesel operated machinery to mass produce food.
Is Manufacturing and Processing an Insurance Policy
We get insurance and build redundancy into IT infrastructure because to manage risk and maintain critical infrastructure, so why have we allowed policies that stripped away our industries?
If you cut off all our shipping and supply chains from overseas, what do we make locally that we build for construction? Can we produce enough steel, how many cars and other machines can we make on demand? What textile factories can make our apparel and other fabric products? How many plastic manufacturing facilities are there to meet demand?
We seem to have outsourced many industrial processes that can be done cheaper by another country with different labour, OH&S and compliance standards, but what if we needed it back to survive?
Manufacturing facilities and processing plants can take years to build. I may be over reacting in some industries but if the bulk of goods are imported, we face similar issues we have experienced with lockdowns and mandates where rising costs and long lead times or no lead time in some instances chokes supply chains, production and the economy.