Manufacturing's contribution to GDP in Australia peaked in the late 1950s and into the 60s when it was near 30 per cent. Now it has shrunk to about 5.5 per cent.
The manufacturing sector could be a major employer again if it is encouraged to grow. Most of the 926,000 workers in the sector are employed by small to medium enterprises with fewer than 20 employees. New technologies such as digital drawing, robotics and 3D printing, as well as widespread shutdown of global supply chains caused by COVID-19, are making growth possible.
Australia, for example, is the largest producer of lithium in the world and exports it in its raw form. Lithium is worth about $US750 a tonne in its raw form but if manufactured into batteries would be worth about $US150,000 a tonne.