Whilst Pacific Brands would like to blame the firing of almost 2000 of its employees on the recession, I believe that it would have done so anyway. Here’s why…
It suits Pacific Brands to manufacture its products overseas where labour is cheaper than in Australia. The problem of cheaper labour is pandemic in the Western World and gradually more and more manufacturing is taking place in China and South-East Asia. Even so-called Aussie brands like Country Road had moved their factories overseas quite a while back. It’s simply a question of production costs.
So Pacific Brands which markets many iconic Aussie products such as Chesty Bonds, took the opportunity of pulling out of Australia and blaming it on the alleged, maybe, could be, not quite sure, “Recession”.
Once tariffs had been removed, there was no way that Aussies could compete against cheaper labour costs in our South-East Asian region.
So what should be done now? Well, in my opinion, it is about time that Australia accepted the reality that it cannot compete in the manufacturing field. It would be better if it could concentrate on services such as education and research in science and technology.
We also hope that foreign students will continue to study here, but that also depends on the economy back in their home countries. After all, this is a global recession.
We cannot depend on tourism which is one of the first fields to suffer when other countries are in recession. Let’s face it, just as we are going to promote tourism for our own people to remain here and holiday in Australia, every other nation will do the same for its tourism industry. And Australia still suffers from the tyranny of distance which prevents overseas visitors from paying dearly to fly here.
We have already seen that airlines are cutting out flights because overseas visitors are no longer coming here in droves, nor are we going overseas either.
Apart from being a quarry for the rest of the world or providing education facilities and some innovative ideas, there is not much else that Australia can offer. We will have to learn to become more self-sufficient in some areas and in others we will have to accept that sox and jocks are made cheaper overseas than here.
It is especially during a recession, that prices of items mean even more to us as we have to tighten our belts. By the way, if you look at the belt section in the major department stores, you will find they are mostly made in China, even if they are labelled with some trendy fashionista’s logo.