Calls for manufacturing to be designated an essential industry

Calls for manufacturing to be designated an essential industry

The Australian Manufacturing Technology Institute Limited (AMTIL) has backed calls for manufacturing to be classified as an essential industry in the event of a more severe lockdown to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The federal and state governments have already imposed restrictions on a number of businesses offering non-essential services as part of measures to support social distancing and contain the spread of coronavirus. Should further limitations become necessary, AMTIL has urged the government to ensure that appropriate exemptions are made for businesses and staff working in the manufacturing industry.

“Manufacturing is essential, not just to our economy but in meeting so many of society’s most crucial requirements,” said Shane Infanti, AMTIL’s CEO. “And as this crisis has evolved, we’ve also seen manufacturers across the country stepping up and assisting in national efforts to combat the virus. It’s vital that manufacturers and their supply chains can continue to operate with as little disruption as possible.”

While acknowledging that the health and wellbeing of the public should be the main priority in our handling of the coronavirus outbreak, Infanti noted that the manufacturing industry has been particularly vigilant in adopting measures to ensure the safety of their workplaces and staff.

“We’ve spoken to companies who have gone to extraordinary lengths to safeguard their people,” he said. “They’ve been investing in additional equipment, changing their operational processes, enforcing remote working for any staff who can. I think in a lot of cases manufacturing has been ahead of the curve in responding to the pandemic.”

AMTIL has been cooperating with partners in government and across the industry to support Australian manufacturers during the crisis, and Infanti welcomed many of the measures introduced by government to assist businesses and bolster the economy.

“From discussions with a lot of our members, one of their greatest concerns has been about retaining their staff, so initiatives such as the JobKeeper grant will provide some welcome support in that area. We’ve also been pleased to see changes that allow accelerated depreciation deductions on large capital assets, something that AMTIL has been pushing for for several years. But it’s crucial that this help gets to struggling businesses as quickly as possible; every delay has an impact.”

Infanti added: “In the longer term, this crisis has made it very clear that countries that do not have a strong local manufacturing base are left critically exposed in times like these. During this pandemic we’ve seen the capability, ingenuity and innovative capacity that Australian manufacturers have to offer. Once we’ve overcome this virus, I hope government can do more to support and nurture this industry in order for Australian manufacturing to truly thrive.”

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