Australian Workers Union Calls for Immediate Industry Support Through 'Future Made in Australia' Policy

The Australian government's 'Future Made in Australia' policy sparks debate between protectionist and free trade advocates, with implications for local manufacturing and workers' livelihoods.

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Geeta Pillai
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Australian Workers Union Calls for Immediate Industry Support Through 'Future Made in Australia' Policy

Australian Workers Union Calls for Immediate Industry Support Through 'Future Made in Australia' Policy

The National Secretary of the Australian Workers Union, is urging the government to provide immediate support for struggling Australian industries through the 'Future Made in Australia' policy in 2024. The government's proposal for this policy has received mixed reactions, with some welcoming initiatives to support investment in forward-leaning projects and 'industries of the future', while others argue that the government should not try to compete with much larger countries like the US and China.

The Treasurer has indicated that the government is not deterred by criticism of possible market distortion and believes it has a more sophisticated strategy to "incentivise the private sector, not replace it". Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has proposed the 'Future Made in Australia Act', a protectionist policy that aims to support local capitalist production through direct financial assistance and tariffs. This contrasts with free trade advocates who believe in the 'magic of markets' without government intervention.

The National Reconstruction Fund Corporation, a $15 billion initiative over six years, will invest in private manufacturing businesses to create niche industries in Australia. However, critics argue that this is 'old-fashioned protectionism' that serves the interests of bosses rather than workers. The protectionist shift has been driven by disruptions to supply chains, the rivalry between the US and China, and the desire to promote local capital accumulation.

Why this matters: The 'Future Made in Australia' policy debate highlights the ongoing tensions between protectionist and free trade strategies in Australia. The outcome could have significant implications for the future of Australian manufacturing and the livelihoods of workers in these industries.

While the policy has support from the manufacturing sector and unions, it has also faced criticism from the opposition Liberal Party, the Australian Financial Review, and the Productivity Commission. Farrow and the Australian Workers Union argue that workers' struggles are the best guarantee for ongoing, well-paid jobs, and that both protectionist and free trade strategies ultimately serve the interests of bosses rather than workers.

Key Takeaways

  • Australian union urges govt to support struggling industries via 'Future Made in Australia' policy
  • Govt's proposal receives mixed reactions, with some welcoming initiatives, others arguing against
  • Treasurer says policy aims to incentivize private sector, not replace it, despite criticism
  • $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund to invest in private manufacturing to create niche industries
  • Debate highlights ongoing tensions between protectionist and free trade strategies in Australia