WA Govt allocates $485,000 for feasibility study into advanced manufacturing hub for South-West

Industry focus: Geographe Enterprises executive chairman Clayton Hyder (right) gave Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan a tour of the facility on September 3. Photo: Thomas Munday.
Industry focus: Geographe Enterprises executive chairman Clayton Hyder (right) gave Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan a tour of the facility on September 3. Photo: Thomas Munday.

State Government and local industry representatives are looking forward to seeing a brighter future for Western Australia's advanced manufacturing sector.

The government has allocated $485,000 for a feasibility study into establishing an advanced manufacturing hub in the South-West.

It is expected the study will be conducted over a "12-to-18-month period".

Visiting Bunbury on Thursday for the announcement, Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the study was part of the government's plan to expand the manufacturing sector and create more jobs.

Ms MacTiernan also said that the state's manufacturing sector would benefit significantly from emerging industries and new technologies.

"We have got a manufacturing sector that has largely grown out of providing support to the mining industry," she said.

"We think there is enormous potential for us to really take this one step further...we want this to become an industry that provides a much larger range of goods and services.

"This is definitely something that will help drive regional development. I think that most West Australians want to see our country towns, particularly our provincial cities, really thrive."

The announcement came after the State Government led a series of roundtable discussions with local industry and community leaders.

"I am a big believer in the capabilities of our local businesses, including in advanced manufacturing - and I believe there is room to expand this sector," Bunbury MLA Punch said.

"The South-West region with its access to port, rail, and road supply chain infrastructure, available industrial land, highly trained workers, and local supplies of key minerals and other resources is ideally placed to host a manufacturing hub.

"It is fantastic to see the State Government, local government, and private sector coming together for the good of the local economy and creating the jobs of the future."

The South West Development Commission, and a host of other industry and local government organisations, will contribute funding and join the project's steering committee.

SWDC chief executive officer Mellisa Teede said the proposed hub would provide local manufacturers with easier access to infrastructure, training, and technology.

Ms Teede confirmed that the steering committee would focus primarily on creating links between the sector and the state's education institutions.

Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union WA state secretary Steve McCartney agreed that the hub would provide major long-term benefits for the local workforce and the economy.

"Building good-quality, 21st century jobs is the only way forward for the state and for the South-West," he said.

"Over the next 18 months, we'll be looking at the level of manufacturing expertise in the South-West. We'll also be working with the TAFEs and universities to build a skills base along with new courses."

Responding to this week's announcement, the Liberal opposition have expressed major concerns over the viability of the study.

South-West MLC Steve Thomas said it was the latest example of the government "kicking the can down the road" when it comes to infrastructure.

"It is just another study, on top of all the other studies that have been done about industry and manufacturing in the South-West...another study won't tell us anything that we don't already know," he said.

"If Alannah MacTiernan wants to invest in manufacturing, she needs to put some serious dollars into infrastructure and services.

"Going forward, we'd like to see a plan that actually has infrastructure investment in place."

This story Hub to boost region's manufacturing sector: MacTiernan first appeared on Bunbury Mail.