OPINION: We don’t seem to make much anymore
AS the last fridge rolled off the factory line at the Electrolux factory in Orange yesterday, many people may have been questioning whether Australia is going to manufacture anything any more.
The factory in Orange has been around since Second World War, when it was a munitions factory and then transitioned into fans, stoves, washing machines, freezers and, lastly, just fridges.
Electrolux announced it was closing its factory in 2013 and is moving operations to Thailand where workers earn about $2.50 per hour.
At its height, the factory employed about 2000 people, but that has been whittled down to a workforce of about 300.
Its closure is a familiar story as Australia's manufacturing sector contracts at a brutal speed.
Let's not forget that South Australian steel maker Arrium is in administration owing about $2 billion and with 5,000 jobs at stake.
Ford is due to cease operations in Australia this year and Holden and Toyota next year.
Are we destined to be a country that doesn't make things any more? To be a net importer of these types of goods?
The answer seems 'yes'.
We are told the economy needs to transition into a services-based one with health, education and financial services at the top of the tree.
A lot has been said about making Oz a hub for tech start-ups, like Israel has become, but saying it and doing it are two different things.