Australia's Once-In-A-Lifetime Opportunity to Rebuild its Vehicle Manufacturing Industry

A new report from the Centre for Future Work's Carmichael CentreRebuilding Vehicle Manufacture in Australia: Industrial Opportunities in an Electrified Future details how the global transition to EV manufacturing is an enormous opportunity for Australia to rebuild its vehicle manufacturing industry. The report, written by Laurie Carmichael Distinguished Research Fellow, Dr Mark Dean, details how an EV-driven industrial future contains significant opportunities to take advantage of our competitive strengths in renewable energy, extractive industries, manufacturing capabilities and skilled workers.

Australia possesses many of the crucial elements for an EV manufacturing industry:

  • Rich mineral reserves,
  • An advanced industrial base,
  • A highly skilled workforce, and
  • Consumer interest.

The benefits of an EV manufacturing industry would be significant for our economy, society, and environment, and include:

  • Tens of thousands of good-quality manufacturing jobs.
  • Stimulus for further development of a high-technology supply chain.
  • Opportunity to utilise Australian mineral resources (including lithium and other rare earths) in value-added industries, thus expanding their value many times over.
  • Diversifying Australia’s export profile and reducing our dependence on raw resource extraction and export.
  • Complementing and reinforcing our accelerating transition toward non-polluting energy sources and systems.
  • Spurring enhanced innovation, research, and engineering activity in Australia – still recovering from the closure of mass vehicle manufacturing in the mid-2010s.

The report has found, however, that Australia's advantages would count for little without significant government support. Therefore, the report makes a number of recommendations for government policy action including:

  • Establishing an EV Manufacturing Industry Commission;
  • Using tax incentives to encourage firms involved in the extraction of key minerals – primarily lithium and rare earths – with local manufacturing capabilities, especially emerging Australian EV battery industries;
  • Introducing a long-term strategy for vocational training, ensuring the establishment of skills to service major EV manufacturers looking to set up operations Australia;
  • Offering major global manufacturers incentives (tax incentives, access to infrastructure, potential public capital participation, etc) to global manufacturers to set up – especially in Australian regions undergoing transition from carbon-intensive industries; and
  • Introducing local procurement laws for the rapid electrification of government vehicle fleets.

No nation builds a major industry without its government taking a proactive role. This report shows there's no excuse for inaction, because there are a huge range of powerful levers our government could be pulling.

If we capture the moment we'll capture abundant benefits: creating tens of thousands of regional manufacturing jobs, reducing our dependence on raw resource extraction, reinforcing our accelerating transition toward non-polluting energy sources, and spurring innovation, research, and engineering activity in Australia. We just need our government to act.

Please read the full report, Rebuilding Vehicle Manufacture in Australia: Industrial Opportunities in an Electrified Future here.


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