Attached is an article by Craig Milne, Executive Director of the Productivity Council of Australia, that gives a potted history of manufacturing in Australia and the associated problems it has faced over time. He also attributes the negative effect economic reform has had on the industry, however my favourite part is this:
"There are strong arguments for Australia staying in manufacturing, and being prepared to pay a high price to do so. Manufacturing is the sector that contains and advances the skills and capabilities that prescribe membership in the ranks of the advanced nations of the world. For research and innovation, manufacturing provides the essential ground from which future streams of products and incomes can emerge. Whatever form the economy of the future may take; manufacturing will provide the enabling foundation for it."
Click here to read the whole article.