Manufacturing in Australia

Manufacturing in Australia peaked in the 1960s at 25% of the country's gross domestic product, and has since dropped below 10%.


The contribution of manufacturing to Australia's gross domestic product peaked in the 1960s at 25%, and had dropped to 13% by 2001–2[1] and 10.5% by 2005–6.[2] In 2004–05, the manufacturing industry exported products worth $67,400 million, and employed 1.1 million people.[3]

In 2000–2001, $3.3 billion was spent on assistance to the manufacturing industry, with 40% going to the textile, clothing and footwear industry and the passenger motor vehicle industry.[4] At that time, manufacturing accounted for 48% of exports, and 45% of Australian research and development.[1]

In 2007, the breakdown of manufacturing by state, and the fraction of gross state product (GSP) which it contributed, were as follows:[5]

StatePercentage of national manufacturingPercentage of GSP
New South Wales3210
South Australia813
Western Australia108
Northern Territory17
Australian Capital Territory0.52

Between 2001 and 2007, the approximate breakdown by industry changed as follows: [5]

IndustryPercent in 2001Percent in 2007
Food, beverages and tobacco1919
Textile, clothing and footwear53
Wood and paper products76
Printing, publishing and recorded media1010
Petroleum, coal and chemical products1514
Non-metal mineral products45
Metal products1819
Machinery and equipment1719
Other manufacturing44

Food processing

The food and beverage manufacturing industry is the largest in Australia. The sectors include the following:[6]

SectorTurnover(2005–06, $millions)
Meat and meat products17,836
Beverage and malt manufacturing13,289
Dairy products9,991
Sugar and confectionery manufacturing6,456
Fruit and vegetable processing4,672
Bakery products4,005
Flour mill and cereal food manufacturing3,692
Oil and fat manufacturing1,547
Seafood processing1,330 *
Other food manufacturing8,554

* Before the 2010 closure of the Port Lincoln Tuna cannery

Textile industry

Until trade liberalisation in the mid 1980s, Australia had a large textile industry. This decline continued through the first decade of the 21st century.[5] Since the 1980s, tariffs have steadily been reduced; in early 2010, the tariffs were reduced from 17.5 percent to 10 percent on clothing, and 7.5–10% to 5% for footwear and other textiles.[7] As of 2010, most textile manufacturing, even by Australian companies, is performed in Asia.

Motor vehicles

As of 2008, four companies mass produced cars in Australia.[8] Mitsubishi ceased production in March 2008, followed by Ford in 2016, and Holden and Toyota in 2017.[9]

Holden bodyworks are manufactured at Elizabeth, South Australia and engines are produced at the Fishermens Bend plant in Port Melbourne, Victoria. In 2006, Holden's export revenue was just under A$1.3 billion.[10] In March 2012, Holden was given a $270 million lifeline by the Australian government. In return, Holden planned to inject over $1 billion into car manufacturing in Australia. They estimated the new investment package would return around $4 billion to the Australian economy and see GM Holden continue making cars in Australia until at least 2022.[11] However, Holden announced on 11 December 2013 that Holden cars would no longer be manufactured in Australia from the end of 2017.[12]

Ford has two main factories, both in Victoria: located in the Geelong suburb of Norlane and the northern Melbourne suburb of Broadmeadows. Both plants were closed down in October 2016.

Until 2006, Toyota had factories in Port Melbourne and Altona, Victoria. Since then, all manufacturing has been at Altona. In 2008, Toyota exported 101,668 vehicles worth $1,900 million.[13] In 2011 the figures were "59,949 units worth $1,004 million".[14] On 10 February 2014 it was announced that by the end of 2017 Toyota would cease manufacturing vehicles and engines in Australia.[15]

In March 2012, a new Australian auto maker, Tomcar, announced they are to build a new factory in Melbourne.[8]

Ford AustraliaGeelong VICCarsExample2016 TBC
Ford AustraliaBroadmeadows VICExampleExampleExample
HoldenPort Melbourne VICEnginesExample2016 TBC
HoldenElizabeth SACarsExample2017 TBC

Chemical industry

Australia has a chemical industry, including the manufacture of many petrochemicals.[16]

Many mining companies, such as BHP and Comalco, perform initial processing of raw materials.[17] Similarly, Australia's agriculture feeds into the chemical industry. Tasmania produces 40% of the world's raw narcotic materials;[18] some of this is locally converted into codeine and other pharmaceuticals in Tasmania by Tasmanian Alkaloids, owned by Johnson and Johnson, while GlaxoSmithKline processes some of the resulting poppy straw in Victoria.

Companies with manufacturing facilities in Australia

A partial list of companies operating manufacturing facilities in Australia, with their most important products.




  • Amcor packaging
  • Arrium Steel
  • BHP Smelted metals
  • BlueScope Steel
  • Boral Building materials, timber, cement
  • Bradken Metal castings
  • Breseight Group Advanced Manufacturing
  • CSR Building materials
  • Downer Group Rolling stock
  • Forgacs Group Ships
  • Incat Catamarans
  • Orica Chemicals, blasting equipment
  • Orora packaging
  • Rio Tinto Aluminium, smelted metals
  • Stratco Sheet Metal
  • Sutton Tools Cutting tools
  • Timberlink (NewForests) Timber, forest products
  • UGL Limited Engineered products, rolling stock
  • Clutch Industries Automotive Clutch manufacturer


Companies that no longer manufacture in Australia

Companies that closed down, or moved manufacturing offshore.

Australian Owned:


See also


  1. Productivity Commission (2004). Trends in Australian Manufacturing (PDF).
  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics (7 February 2008). "1309.0 – Australia at a Glance, 2008". Retrieved 13 February 2010.
  3. "Advanced Manufacturing". Australian Government. Austrade. Retrieved 3 March 2010.
  4. "Australian Manufacturing: A Brief History of Industry Policy and Trade Liberalisation". Retrieved 3 March 2010.
  5. "Australian manufacturing—structural trends 2001–02 to 2006–07". 24 November 2008. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  6. "About Australia: Food Industry". Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Retrieved 6 March 2010.
  7. Peter Anderson (1 January 2010). "ACCI Welcomes textiles and car tariff cuts (ACCI media release 003/10)" (PDF). Retrieved 13 February 2010.
  8. Hassall, David (12 April 2012). "Tomcar - New local vehicle manufacturer". GoAuto. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  9. "Toyota workers out of jobs as car manufacturer closes Altona plant". ABC News. Australia. 6 December 2017. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  10. "Vehicle Exports". GM Holden. Retrieved 23 August 2008.
  11. "Holden To Stay After Government Promises $270 Million Assistance". Australian Manufacturing. 23 March 2012. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  12. "South Australia stunned as GM announces Holden's closure in Adelaide in 2017". GM Holden. 12 December 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  13. "Exports-2008". Toyota Australia. Retrieved 3 March 2010.
  14. "Exports-2011". Toyota Australia. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  15. Dunckley, Mathew (10 February 2014). "Toyota confirms exit from Australian manufacturing in 2017". Port Macquarie News. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  16. "Australia's chemical industry". Retrieved 22 February 2010.
  17. "Chemicals in Australia". Retrieved 22 February 2010.
  18. "Brand Tasmania". Retrieved 22 February 2010.
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