We recently welcomed the appointment of the Hon Clive Brown AM as the independent Chair of the Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Hub (AMTECH) steering group. The announcement marked another step forward in our industry-led plan to deliver an advanced manufacturing and technology hub for Bunbury and the wider region. Mr Brown provides insight into the sector in this article…
The development of an advanced manufacturing hub in the wider Bunbury Geographe region has the potential to grow what is already a dynamic and sophisticated manufacturing sector. What makes the area ideally placed to take advantage of the emerging opportunities is, in part, access to sound existing infrastructure. More importantly, the region benefits from the existence of companies that have demonstrated over many years a commitment to innovation and production of equipment demanded by the mining and other sectors.
This is an industry-led project that is being project managed by State Government, with the aid of consultants. With manufacturing comes the demand for a highly skilled workforce, with enterprise always conscious of the need to find that competitive edge in the items produced for the market. And it is not just the manufacturing sector that benefits. A stable, skilled and well-paid workforce contributes to the local economy.
Across Australia and in Western Australia, there have been some very good examples of what can be achieved when government and industry work together to grow the sector. In Western Australia, government has invested in common user infrastructure that has enabled business, both large and small, to compete for projects that require a large and strategically located facility that would otherwise be beyond the capacity of any business to acquire for a single contract. A facility of this nature has enabled the clustering of enterprises and the learnings that come from being located with neighbours all committed to the same objective. Equally as important, it can provide opportunities for co-location of research and training bodies to enable the cross fertilization of ideas and the development of the skills needed in an ever-increasing competitive market.
It is true that the South West manufacturing sector has developed a sound reputation for producing quality products for largely, but not exclusively, the mining sector. But new opportunities are emerging with greater focus on producing equipment that lowers the carbon footprint, both during the manufacture and operation. And industries that were seen as exceptionally futuristic just a few years ago are now being planned, with the development of offshore wind power being just one example.
A chance now exits for the Bunbury-Geographe region to participate in these emerging opportunities. With innovative companies, a highly skilled workforce and the right infrastructure, there is no reason why that cannot become the reality.
The task for the South West Development Commission over the next 12 months is to demonstrate a case for investment in common user infrastructure that will meet industry’s needs to expand and diversify. This will be no easy task, with an array of matters that will need to be considered, ranging for access to existing public infrastructure, design and location all having to be factored in. I am exceptionally pleased to be part of that process as success will mean lasting benefits for the South West and the State as a whole.
-Hon Clive Brown AM