An image of Dr. Megan Clark, CEO of CSIRO.

Dr Megan Clark, Chief Executive and CSIRO Board member.

The future of Australian manufacturing: competitiveness through innovation - presentation by Dr Megan Clark

This presentation 'The future of Australian manufacturing: competitiveness through innovation' was given by CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Megan Clark. Provided here is an adapted transcript of the speech, originally delivered on 7 May 2009.

  • 28 July 2009 | Updated 14 October 2011

Future Australian manufacturing

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The global financial crisis has hit against the backdrop of a long-term decline in Australian manufacturing amid competition from overseas.

The latest National Accounts trend figures showed that manufacturing output declined by 2.1 per cent in the 2008 December quarter. Among the biggest decreases were in wood and paper products, metal products and machinery and equipment1.

Slide from The Future of Australian Manufacturing presentation

Manufacturing revenues have barely kept pace with inflation, growing at an average of 3 per cent over the past two decades2. Some areas, including food, mining, biomedical instruments and IT related manufacturing, have seen above average growth.

However this sector is important to Australia. It employs more than a million people nationally, roughly 10 per cent of the workforce3. It accounts for more than half of Australia’s total exported goods4. It is an integral part of the value chains of many other sectors, and it is closely linked to the rest of the economy5.


1. ABS, Australian National Accounts, 5206.0 National Income, Expenditure and Product, Dec 2008.
2. ABS, Business Indicators (Cat 5676.0), March 2008.

3. ABS, Manufacturing Indicators – Australia (Cat 8229.0), December 2007.

4. ABS, Year Book Australia, 2008 (Cat 1301.0), February 2008.

5. The Australian Industry Group says that, as a general rule, every $1 generated from the manufacturing sector flows through to an additional $1.25 expenditure in the rest of the economy. See, Australian Industry Group, Manufacturing Futures – Achieving Global Fitness, July 2006.