Manufacturing Industry

14 Sep 2005 questionsarchive

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Industry and Trade a question about the state’s manufacturing industry.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: In June we had the announcement by Acting Premier Kevin Foley of the strategy entitled, ‘Global horizons-local initiatives: a future framework for South Australia’s manufacturing future’. In the press release the Treasurer outlined a number of what are described as initiatives of some $25 million, including a Centre for Innovation. My questions are:

1. In relation to the Centre for Innovation, how does this specifically differ from the dismantled CIBM? Where will it be established? When will it be established?

2. In relation to the initiatives, were submissions invited for these multimillion dollar initiatives? If not, why not? If so, who was on the panel? What criteria were applied? Was it a multiple-step selection process between a committee, council or some other body and the minister’s office? If it was through a selection process and tender, will the minister provide a list of all the unsuccessful projects and the reasons therefor?

The Hon. P. HOLLOWAY (Minister for Industry and Trade): The money about which the Treasurer was talking in that report related to support that the government has provided to a number of centres throughout the state, such as the CRC, advanced automotive engineering, product innovation awards, the wine innovation cluster (which was $9.5 million over two years) and the Australian Mineral Science Research Institute (which was $2.5 million). They were all projects that have been proposed to—

The Hon. R.I. Lucas interjecting:

The Hon. P. HOLLOWAY: Yes; they were announced.

After all, this statement was made by the Deputy Premier some time in the last financial year. There are a number of projects for which the government is providing money, and they were considered through the usual processes of government. There was not a tender, as such. I do not think one tenders for something like the Australian Mineral Science Research Institute. Clearly, those sorts of bodies get funding only through the commonwealth, and commonwealth funding is a significant part of any project. The states have to put up the money and get the commonwealth funding. Clearly, only a few places in this state win that highly competitive process to get that sort of support.

The Ian Wark Research Institute at Mawson Lakes, of course, is world renowned in relation to expertise. So, in relation to that particular money which went to the Australian Mineral Science Research Institute—with which I am familiar—there would be no other body in this state, I would think, that would have the capacity to do the sort of work that is being done there. These processes are not tenders, but the various centres of excellence and the programs that the government has been supporting will improve the competitiveness of manufacturing. I announced earlier this week some details of other programs where we are helping the automotive component sector.

In relation to the honourable member’s question about the Centre for Innovation, the centre has already been established.

It will provide specialist services and act as a catalyst for high growth South Australian companies to innovate. It will include innovation nodes to the north and south of Adelaide. The node in the north will be located at the Mawson Lakes centre. There will also be a node established to the south of Adelaide. The services that will be available through that centre for innovation will include innovation support, commercialisation support, collaboration and also helping with the process of education awareness and raising of performance.

In this state we have an enormous amount of innovation going on. There are many research institutes, including those announced by the Treasurer in that statement, such as the Australian mineral and science research institute, the Wine Innovation Cluster and the Mawson Institute for Advanced Manufacturing, which will get $8 million over four years.

Those bodies exist and there is certainly plenty of innovation going on. The key is to tie in that innovation with our companies, particularly the smaller companies at the cutting edge of the global competition for manufacturing. We need to ensure that there is the connection between the bodies doing the research and innovation and the companies that need that commercialisation support.

The specific role of the centre for innovation is to make that connection between the companies (particularly the smaller companies that need support) and the bodies that are doing the innovation. That, essentially, will be its role. As I understand it, it will have a specific focus on centres for innovation that have been set up around the world, and I have had a look at some of the data from overseas bodies, and that is increasingly their focus. So, we believe that this centre for innovation will play that role very well.

As I indicated in answer to a question from the Leader of the Opposition two days ago, it has a specific focus in relation to the automotive component sector, because that is one part of manufacturing that is particularly feeling the heat at the moment because of a number of global factors—high petroleum prices, changing sectors of the car market, the high Australian dollar and global influences (particularly the state of the US car market). So, that is part of the industry that will get the initial focus from the centre for innovation.