The announcement in August 2011 that BlueScope Steel was about to close one of its Port Kembla blast furnaces and cease steel exports quickly spurred public debate, not just about steel but about the very future of manufacturing in Australia. With an elevated Australian dollar, job losses have followed in garment-making, car manufacturing and aluminium smelting. Even the iconic Australian fly-spray Mortein is now heading for offshore production. Australian Workers’ Union National Secretary Paul Howes thus suggested: ‘The question the Australian community needs to ask itself*is do we want to be a country that still makes things? Do we want to value-add to our natural resources, or do we want to become just one big sandpit for China and a tourism resort for North Asia?’ (quoted on ABC Radio 22 August 2011, 8:10 a.m.).
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