Back to the future to encourage Aussies to buy local
Hey true blue!
A new campaign echoing the original Buy Australian ad from the 1980s is being launched to encourage Aussies to buy local and power our nation out of the coronavirus economic slump.
The new multimedia Australian Made campaign launches on Monday with the slogan: "It's never been more important to buy Australian than right now."
It comes as research shows that using Australian-made products for government contracts would create 53,000 new jobs and pump $3.5 billion into the economy.
Economists for the Australian Workers Union also found that using Australian steel in just eight major projects, including Sydney Football Stadium and the new Sydney Fish Markets, would create 3000 jobs and give the economy a $200 million boost.
"Government has no excuse for not backing Australian building products on major infrastructure projects," Australian Workers Union national secretary Daniel Walton said.
In the past, projects such as the West Gate Tunnel in Victoria used $100 million of imported steel beams from a fabricator in China rather than locally produced steel.
The $8.3 billion Sydney Metro Northwest used imported steel rail from Spain, the Sydney Convention Centre was built with steel from China and the City Metro tramline used foreign steel and Chinese electrics.
"We keep getting the situation where some anonymous number cruncher in the public service identifies a $1 saving from buying Chinese steel and, as a result, Australians miss out on hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars of investment. It's madness," Mr Walton said.
Economists found that using Australian-produced steel, aluminium, glass, cement and other heavy manufacturing items instead of foreign sourced materials on 90 per cent of major government projects would pump $3.5 billion into the economy and create 53,000 jobs.
They found that bringing all aluminium production onshore would create 10,000 jobs. Boral employs 300 Australians to produce 1.3 million tonnes of cement for Sydney while rivals deny 500 Aussies jobs by importing foreign cement.
"Government is now set to stimulate the economy by spending huge money on infrastructure," Mr Walton said. "We need to make sure we get a double bite at the economic cherry and back Australian jobs."
His call was backed by Australian Made Campaign chief executive Ben Lazzaro. "It is perfectly reasonable to expect with government contracts that Australian manufacturers get the first crack at these projects," he said.
The consumer call-to-arms has been backed by both Liberal and Labor Federal and State government leaders. NSW deputy premier John Barilaro said: "Following the COVID-19 crisis we need to back ourselves to recover our economy.
"The NSW Government supports Australian made products by using locally sourced materials in infrastructure projects like the Broken Hill Pipeline, which was built with 30,000 tonnes of Australian steel from Port Kembla," he said.
Australian Made chief executive Ben Larazzo said: "By calling on Australians to buy Australian right now, not only will we get products made to some of the highest quality and safety standards in the world, we can create local jobs and economic activity that will aid in the recovery process."
Visits to the official Australian Made website have already jumped by 130 per cent and applications to use the official Australian Made logo have jumped by 400 per cent since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
"What this pandemic has shown us is just how innovative our manufacturers are in the way they pivoted to retool and make the medical equipment we needed," Mr Lazzaro said. "This is a moment when we can end the imbalance between local and imported products.
"There is a conscious consumer demand for Australian produced goods at the moment - the test is whether we can carry that through at the cash register."
Federal Industry Minister Karen Andrews said: "Our manufacturers have really stepped up during the coronavirus pandemic - whether it's our food and grocery manufacturers keeping supermarket shelves stocked amid unprecedented demand or others pivoting to make essential medical supplies.
"We need to ensure it's not a flash-in-the-pan," she said. "I think many Australians are reconsidering their fast, disposable, retail mentality - a return to quality over quantity.
"Forget all the other retail buzzwords and phrases of recent years - I'm convinced Aussie-Made will be the go-to selling point going forward."
The new Buy Australian ad campaign looks to capture the spirit of the original, which was commissioned by Bob Hawke's Labor government in 1986 and used John Williamson's classic anthem True Blue. It said: "Now is the time to dig in and help each other as never before."
And in words that are equally true in COVID-19 Australia today it said: "When you choose a true blue Aussie product, you are helping a mate and you are helping Australia."
But in a sign of how times have changed, many of the products featured in the original ad including Ansett airlines, FAI insurance, The Bulletin magazine and the Ford Falcon have all vanished.
Many other iconic brands since then including Sunbeam, Sheridan, Arnotts and Victa have all been bought up by American multinationals with most production being moved to China.
Pacific Brands, which owns brands including Bonds, Sheridan and Berlei was sold to American Hanesbrands four years ago. Speedo was sold to the UK based Pentland Group in the 1990s.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese said: "Australia needs to be a nation that makes things, rather than relying so much on imports that we cannot meet our own needs in times of crisis, like pandemics.
"Buying Australian-made products creates jobs for Australians. This will be even more important as we emerge from the Coronavirus crisis because it will help our businesses and employees get back to work," he said.
Sydney tradie Yusuf Muklis said he always tries to choose Australian made products because "the quality of stuff made here is so much better.
"It just makes sense to keep the jobs here and the economy moving, especially with so many people out of work."
Mr Muklis said relying on products made overseas had caused problems during the coronavirus lockdown. "Our reliance on overseas manufacturing has caused delays in accessing equipment and materials that has caused a downturn in work.
"Buying Australian made products would have shielded us from the delays and kept us productive," he said.
Originally published as Back to the future to encourage Aussies to buy local