A new report from the Carmichael Centre highlights the exciting economic and industrial opportunities facing Australia as a result of the accelerating global transition toward electric vehicles. The report, by economist Mark Dean, provides a roadmap for policy-makers for maximizing the domestic manufacturing and innovation spin-offs associated with growing personal, commercial, and public transit use of electric vehicles.
The new report builds on policy themes first identified in an earlier report by Dr Dean in February. New economic and political developments have highlighted that the transition to EVs is occurring faster than previously identified, and that there is a new openness among Australian policy-makers at both the federal and state levels to the types of pro-active industrial policy interventions that will be required to make the most of these opportunities.
Australia’s combination of rich mineral reserves, an advanced industrial base, a highly skilled workforce and strong consumer interest could provide the foundation for significant industrial opportunities. Developing a viable EV manufacturing industry in Australia would be possible if the federal government would commit to a more proactive approach to environmental and industry policy issues and coordinate existing strengths within a policy framework supportive of domestic EV-related manufacturing.
This paper further explores this opportunity by reviewing the key arguments and recommendations of the Rebuilding report, examining what has been done to capitalise on the opportunities identified in the report since its publication, and exploring what potential opportunities might be captured by Commonwealth and state governments finally embracing an active approach to industry policy. This review is supported by input from key stakeholders, specifically the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), the Electric Vehicles Council, and the Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre (FBICRC). These stakeholders’ knowledge of policy, skills, workforce, industry, infrastructure, strategy, and legislation demonstrates how a sustainable Australian EV manufacturing industry could develop into a competitive economic advantage.