Well this weeks letter comes from Vicky, who is a new reader. Here is her question.
Vicky here, I have been listening to your podcasts..FANTASTIC!!!!
As you were asking questions, to your guests, a question came up this evening with a long and dear friend about how she went out and spent $25.00 on a simple cotton nightie, so we asked “do we have a rag trade here in Australia any more or like many other manufacturing industries gone overseas. This raises a lot of questions on what manufacturing companies are still here, and will be here for our future?
It would be interesting where our country now stands in the way of supporting our economy and way of life, or are we heading for a total dependency on other countries through loosing our manufacturing sector.
l would be really interested to see what your other readers thought if you mentioned this …..
So to paraphrase, She asks a big question about how sustainable the manufacturing sector, not only in Australia, but I dare say in most western societies. Have we taken globalisation too much, and what does that bring for the future.
Let us know your thoughts?
I’d like to know the answer to the question too! Corporate America has taken so much of their business to other shores…to countries that don’t have unions and have no minimum wage! Now so many are crying for employment and there is no work for our citizens!
From a plant... says
You might be interested in ‘The End of Food’ by Paul Roberts. It discusses how globalisation of the food industry is leading us towards a “perfect storm of sequential … food-related calamities”. I imagine the globalisation of the manufacturing industry will have similar impacts…
Gavin Webber says
Hi, have a look at my post titled “The End of Food” where I suggest the very some thoughts as you.
I run a very small handmade bag business in Ballarat. A few years ago I was making and selling to about 50 shops around Australia. I tried to have my bags made locally. The process was slow, expensive and difficult. My options were to either go overseas or keep my production studio based handmade and sell the bags directly to the customer. I chose the later. I reduced my wholesale business and began directly selling my product. I run my studio on solar power and hand make every bag myself. The thing is, I can only keep doing what I do if the consumer makes the choice to support Australian manufactured goods. It’s even better if you know that the product is handmade by the designer.
The power is yours. You can make a choice. If every Australian made the choice to buy at least one hand made artisan product each Christmas we would be able to keep making a living. I know I am only talking about a micro economy but it’s sum of the small that makes the large.
Linda Woodrow says
I found this really interesting graph when I was doing some research for something else. Australia’s manufacturing industries certainly are dying. On one hand, I’d like to see manufacturing worldwide decrease. I’d like to see the old businesses that repaired things come back, to be able to get shoes re-soled or a washing machine motor reconditioned. I’d like to see a lot less stuff made, and the stuff that is made, made better, to last. But on the other hand, I’d also like to see a lot more local production. The permaculture concept of zone analysis is useful: producing the things you use most frequently closest to home, and the things you use less frequently further away. So food, for example, should come from very close to home, while a tool or machine you might buy once to last generations would have so few of them made, worldwide, that it would make sense to import it.
This same thing has been on my mind lately too. I was shopping for some fabric and started checking out the bolt ends. All I could find was “Made in China” or “Made in India”. So I searched online and found a USA denim manufacturer and very few other odd USA fabric manufacturers. We don’t make electronics any more. I think the most local thing Wally World carries is vegetables from California. It can be hard to find USA made products in stores. It’s worrisome to me also. We have massive unemployment, but we ship total crap into our country from the other side of the world.
And now I’ve discovered a new “trick”. Packaging will say “Distributed by xxxxx company” with a USA address, and have no mention of where it’s manufactured. Very deceitful.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not totally against imports. We obviously haven’t managed to operate without foreign oil, and I’m thrilled we get to enjoy exotic spices, coffee, etc. But, things are so out of kilter.
brenda from ar
It’s a huge concern. In the last year I have bought work boots and Ugg boots. I could find only two Australian made work boots and the Ugg boots were also difficult. Most of the wool is processed overseas. I wish there were more easy-to-find websites with local and organic products but sometimes I spend hours online and don’t find what I want. I desperately want to support local but it takes a huge amount of detective work. Like Linda, I wish things were made to last and were designed to be repaired, not thrown away!
I really like Linda Woodrow’s comment about applying a permaculture zone concept. Now I don’t feel so bad about importing my soil blocker from England (as far as I could discover there is only one commercial manufacturer of soil blockers world-wide). The thing is, it should last me a lifetime.
“A Bavarian Fairytale” Foreign Correspondent, ABC1, Tuesday 14 February tells the story of mittelstand, a tradition of family owned provincial manufacturing businesses that represent 50% of Germany’s exports. These manufacturing businesses are passed down from one generation to the next, retain private ownership, are solvent because they own their business outright (no debt to banks) and are therefore stable producers and reliable sources of employment. They believe in paying a their taxes and working co-operatively with unions. Their goal is to make money so that jobs stay locally and their communities can survive. Loyal, fair and prudent, they have not taken manufacturing off shore for better profits nor have they entered a race to the bottom to for ‘productivity gains’. Yet they thrive. They are sustainable businesses in the sense that ever growing profits and greed are not what drives them. This program is available on iview and well worth 27 minutes of viewing time.