The Re-Engineering Foundation has called on governments to prioritise creating local jobs when approving major engineering projects or risk losing Australia’s competitive advantage in engineering.
Michael Myers, executive chairman of the Re-Engineering Foundation, says Australia has been blessed with great natural resources which should be used to build a smarter Australia – but this is not happening.
“The mining industry with the support of Governments both State and Federal are not only pillaging our mineral resources but they are pillaging the opportunity to build technological future for our children,” says Myers.
“Somewhere in the system someone has decided that Australians aren’t smart enough and in addition to sending our minerals and profits off-shore mining companies are also sending high value-add engineering design work associated with infrastructure projects overseas.
“This is costing us Australian jobs and the opportunity to develop high skill, high value-add capabilities in Australia.
“If the current outsourcing of engineering design continues, Australia’s capability to provide solutions to its own infrastructure requirements will disappear down the drain within five years. All we will be left with as the sum total outcome of the mining boom is not much more than holes in the ground. This is a false economy which will not move Australia one step into the future nor is it a vision for the future we should be handing to our children.
“The design of neither the Hills Hoist nor the Snowy Scheme is the sum total of the Australian engineering capability. Our children are capable of much more and deserve the opportunity to prove it. Just imagine the infrastructure problems and environmental issues young Australians could solve if they had the opportunity to hone their design skills on major design projects?
“As a nation we need to only support industries committed to a long term vision for our country and a commitment to handing the baton to our children. We should be asking of every project… ‘Will the outcomes of this project hand the baton to our children to continue in the relay to success or will it leaving them stranded in the race to a better future?’… If the answer is no, then we must change the rules by which Industry and Governments play.
“It is time for the mining industry to play a major role in helping this nation stand on its own two feet in terms of technological capability. We need the design work to stay here so that we can make ‘outliers’ of every one of our children but we can’t do this if we don’t give them opportunities to learn by working on the major projects we have in our own back yard.”
Myers says all it would take to fix the problem would be for Governments to legislate for a minimum local SMART content in major projects to stay in Australia,
“If 15% of the design content of current resource projects was kept in Australia it would inject $17 billion into the futures of our children.
“So why don’t we legislate for this? It would cost zero to legislate, zero to implement, would tax no one, would provide thousands of smart jobs and would change the future of Australia as a smart nation.
“Governments need to implement legislation at all levels which keeps smart jobs here in Australia. Otherwise we will become a nation of people heading backwards down the slippery slope to insignificance on the world stage.
“It is time we gave the job of building a nation to Australians rather than outsourcing it to the rest of the world," stressed Myers.