Following the release of key strategies during his Budget speech, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg visited Western Sydney synthetic sling manufacturer SpanSet, to learn first-hand what these strategies will mean to local industry.
In his Federal Budget speech, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg made a number of major announcements designed to promote and encourage the Australian manufacturing sector.
Following these announcements, Frydenberg made his first ‘media doorstop’ during a visit to SpanSet Australia a Western Sydney based manufacturer of Height Safety, Load Restraint and Lifting products. The Treasurer was joined by Federal Member for the electorate of Lindsay, Melissa McIntosh MP, and they were hosted by SpanSet managing director, Kristian Pritchett, and his team.
McIntosh recently established the Advancing Manufacturing Taskforce, aimed at investigating, promoting and advocating for policies that create local, national, and international opportunities for manufacturing in Western Sydney. SpanSet, as an Australian Manufacturer, is proud to be a member of this taskforce, says Pritchett.
“As far as we are concerned, the Advancing Manufacturing Taskforce is a very important initiative for Australian manufacturing. Its aim is to bring about the efficiencies required to lower production costs and allow Australian manufacturers to compete against comparable imported products. We congratulate Melissa and her team for this initiative, and we are delighted to be playing our part in its success,” said Pritchett.
Pritchett goes on to discuss the difficulties businesses, in general, have faced during the COVID pandemic and how federal government enterprise has helped ease the burden.
“Throughout the pandemic, most businesses have applauded Federal Government policies and agree JobKeeper has been a real lifeline for many companies, along with PAYG incentives. These policies have kept most Australians employed in unprecedented circusmtances.
“The Instant Asset Write-Off scheme is a positive and will help with our planned machinery and testing equipment purchases in the near future,” he said.
Pritchett explains what a visit from the Treasurer means to an organisation like SpanSet Australia.
“For the Treasurer and the Federal Member for Lindsay to undertake a tour of our facility is an enormous honour. To have someone of Frydenberg’s profile take time out of his incredibly busy schedule to tour our facility and meet with our staff was a huge boost.
“I am extremely grateful to both Josh Frydenberg and Melissa McIntosh for their approach. They were open, down-to-earth, and were genuinely interested in what our team does daily,” he said.
During a press conference, which followed the facility visit, and a meeting with the Advanced Manufacturing Taskforce, the Treasurer explained how the Morrison Government is backing Australian manufacturing, as well as the science and research that underpins it. As part of our Economic Recovery Plan to lead the nation out of the COVID-19 crisis, the aim is to create the jobs needed now and for generations to come. Three key policies include:
An investment of $1.5 billion over four years for the Modern Manufacturing Strategy to allow Australian manufacturers to scale up, compete internationally, and create more jobs.
At a cost of $4 billion from 2020-21 to 2022-23, the JobMaker Hiring Credit will give businesses incentives to take on additional young job seekers. This will help young people access employment opportunities as the economy recovers. The JobMaker Hiring Credit will be available to employers for each new job they create over the next 12 months and for which they hire an eligible young person, aged 16 to 35.
The third policy, designed to make the manufacturing sector more competitive, relates to energy. In a $52.9 million package announced in the Budget, the Federal Government will work to tap into gas supplies in mines not being used, increase production, and use new pipelines to reduce domestic costs.
The move is expected to help bring down electricity prices and stabilise Australia’s own stockpile, while allowing the gas to serve as the backbone for a lower emissions national electricity market.
“It’s is very encouraging to have a government focused on the manufacturing sector. When you are living and breathing Australian manufacturing every day, and everyone is working hard battling cheap imports, that severely impacts your business; you have to fight for every sale. With these policies, I honestly believe we are on the right track,” said Pritchett. “Arguably there are further policy changes around free trade agreements that would add additional protection against imported products but that’s a discussion for another day.
“When competing against an equivalent imported product with a locally produced one, you need to work smarter, keep your costs down and invest in good people and efficient machinery. In this country, we need to be efficient to be competetive. The pursuit of these efficiencies is never-ending.”
Pritchett said that it is a massive step in the right direction to finally have manufacturing at the forefront of the government’s mind.
“With initiatives like the Manufacturers Taskforce, you really get the feeling there is a genuine and concerted effort to reclaim ground the manufacturing sector has lost. I feel manufacturing is being taken seriously. The required investment is going to be there, and the necessary tax incentives available. There is a ground-swell of interest in locally manufactured product,” he said.
To help demonstrate SpanSet’s synthetic slings, Pritchett worked closely with Two Way Crane’s Frank Zammit, who generously made one of his new Franna AT40s available for the event. The Franna AT40 is manufactured in Australia by Terex.
“Frank has utilised SpanSet slings in his business, but it was not until he had a tour of our factory that he gained a greater appreciation of how our products are made, and the amount of manual labour and effort that is put into manufacturing them.
“He can now see we are working hard to keep 50-plus local people employed, to manufacture lifting slings, height safety equipment and load restraint products to the highest quality, while running a thriving business and keeping Australian manufacturing alive. With this understanding, Frank is now in a better position to appreciate the benefits of purchasing Australian made products over imported,” said Pritchett.
Pritchett goes on to discuss the reasons behind wanting to increase the profile of SpanSet and what he hopes to achieve by doing so.
“We have been travelling under the advertising and social media radar for a while now, and this campaign is intended to change that and let the crane sector, in particular, know the benefits of purchasing SpanSet products. The campaign is also designed to encourage businesses to buy Australian made. This means consciously supporting Australian manufacturers and buying Australian products wherever and whenever possible. If the industry starts thinking like Frank and decides to go down this path, then we can really affect change in this country,” he said.
“It’s interesting. I recently received an email from Ross Johnson, manager of Dynamic Rigging Hire, one of Melbourne’s leading names in lifting and equipment hire. He saw our previous article in Cranes and Lifting magazine and said he was looking to replace his imported products with SpanSet equipment.
“Ross has been stocking some specific SpanSet products over the last 10 years and he has a lot of imported hire equipment coming up for renewal. He is impressed with the high quality of SpanSet products previously purchased and the fact that they are Australian made,” said Pritchett.
Where possible, Dynamic Rigging Hire stocks Australian made products, says Johnson.
“I understand you pay a little extra for Australian made slings, but I would say the ‘price gap’ is closing. The price of imported product is significantly increasing,” he said.
Dynamic Rigging Hire offers approximately 150 different synthetic round slings, with capacities up to 150t.
“We are gradually replacing what imported slings we have with SpanSet lifting slings; and there are a couple of reasons for this. We want to support Australian businesses, and we know SpanSet manufactures high quality products,” said Johnson.
“It is not always possible to know the source of imported equipment, but we know exactly where the SpanSet products are manufactured and we have a relationship with the SpanSet team. We know we can pick up the phone and discuss our specific requirements, at any time,” he said.
Pritchett stated, “this is exactly the response we want to encourage, and the type of attention we are looking to capture. We want business owners, like Frank and Ross, to say, ‘I’m going to support SpanSet specifically because I want a high-quality, Australian-produced lifting sling.’
Pritchett believes the tide is turning when it comes to Australian Made and Australian manufacturing.
“It’s an important message and it’s starting to get traction. The Treasurer has been here, and we are working closely with Melissa McIntosh MP on the Manufacturer’s Taskforce. Australian manufacturing is fighting its way back and I believe this can impact positively on the crane industry,” said Pritchett.