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Chemistry Australia Launch: Jonathan Clancy - Speech

Jonathan Clancy

Chair, Chemistry Australia
Global People Strategy Director and Government Liaison, ChemChina

Chemistry Australia Launch

21 March 2017
Parliament House, Canberra

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Minister Sinodinos, thank you very much for your thoughts, and for addressing our launch today.

It is encouraging to hear from someone who is not only passionate about the prospects for innovation and science in this country, but also practical in how to best leverage our nation’s resources.

Minister as Samantha said, we have a $40 billion industry, but just the Board member companies of Chemistry Australia alone, have parent companies with over $500 billion in global revenues.

So it’s our collective objective is to ensure Australia is the destination point for a larger share of this reinvestment opportunity.

It’s fantastic to see so many people here to celebrate the launch of Chemistry Australia.

Firstly, I would like to congratulate Samantha and the team on the successful transition to Chemistry Australia. I think you’ll agree we look a lot sharper with our new brand!

But this is not just about a change of clothes. The shift to “Chemistry Australia’’ is a part of a global movement to look at the industry as more than its products.

The underlying capability of chemistry connects research and academia with industry and its customers. This connection enables us to become an integrated solutions provider that makes Australia and indeed the world, a better place to live.

The new tagline, "Essential for Life’" is an expression of this.

The key is - our lives are always changing. Samantha talked about adapting to change. And I would like to talk about the opportunity in change.

On a global level there is big change. This industry has the capability to answer some of the biggest global challenges we face today.

These include:

  • Saving energy through the production of more energy efficient materials
  • Caring for an aging population with more targeted medicines and technologies to reduce infection, and
  • Providing innovative solutions for water transportation and storage
  • Increasing food production with improvements in soil, crop and fertiliser technologies

Minister, I know you are a fan of practical examples of Innovation - & I’d like to share one briefly

The World Health Organisation documents that food production needs to increase by 70% by 2050 to meet demand. This is a huge percentage that will require all our ingenuity to solve.

Australia is well-placed to meet this growing demand with an excellent reputation for safe and high-quality food, available land, first-world farming techniques and access to advanced chemistry.

It was Integrated Packaging, an Australian stretch film business, which first invented the machine to wrap silage feed bales in durable, weatherproof plastic.

They export this system, and the innovation has been the foundation for significant development for the business. But the full impact through the value chains of this innovation is much more significant.

Silage wrap is helping Australian dairy farmers provide year-round feed, improve productivity and competitiveness.

The raw dairy product then goes on to be processed and packaged also using the products of chemistry, producing the high quality Australian dairy products that are in huge demand in Asia.

This is innovation in the business of chemistry generating exponential growth, bringing benefits to the economy and communities around Australia.

And it’s just one example.

The business of chemistry is a powerful lever for growth, innovation and jobs through Australia’s value chains. This is an important strategic role, and the industry is focussed on ensuring that it can continue this role.

We welcome the Government’s work on innovation ecosystems to encourage greater rates of commercialisation to help Australian businesses not just compete, but develop new products and services to meet the needs of domestic and international consumers.

This is also a focus for Chemistry Australia. The Association is working to improve collaboration between industry, research and academia.

This includes:

  • A Chemistry Australia and CSIRO Strategic Alliance
  • $6M Chemicals and Plastics Graduate Research Industry Partnership
  • $25M Victorian Centre for Sustainable Chemical Manufacturing, and
  • The newly launched, Chemistry Australia Research Link that provides the industry with access to technology opportunities from research institutes Australia-wide, all in the one place

We must be bold & improve Conditions for growth

These are great initiatives, but innovation through to commercialisation, requires considerable investment. Creating the right environment for investment is critical.

Each business needs to be able to answer: Why should we invest here in Australia?

This includes:

  • Australian businesses deciding where to reinvest, and
  • for subsidiaries of multinationals, competing for finite and mobile capital within their global organisation

Australia must seek non-partisan agreement on key policies to give industry a clear signal for investment.

Despite the Australian dollar falling by some 25% since the height of the mining boom and interest rates being at historical lows, there are further changes that we must work with you to enable many of our members to secure capital for projects. Most of these companies are competing with alternate international projects, in countries that are simply more attractive.

On Tax

An internationally competitive tax system that supports innovation and investment is certainly an important part of this picture.

In relation to Energy and Gas for Feedstock

Fundamentally, industry cannot run without energy.  Energy is vital to manufacturing, and it’s vital to communities.

Access to reliable and affordable energy is a make or break condition for investment. Without it, we limit our opportunity for innovation to drive future investment and growth.

The current lack of energy security and rising costs of electricity and gas, has now become a major vulnerability. This is despite our considerable advantage in natural resources, and significant gas reserves.

Affordable gas has been a source of competitive advantage and investment attraction for over 50 years.

And for the Australian chemistry industry, gas is not only about energy. The Australian chemistry industry is unique in transforming the molecules of gas into new products and materials.

An example I know well is the ethane molecule from gas that is used to make polyethylene which has myriad uses through the economy.

Gas piping is an example - critical infrastructure that transports gas for domestic use, and to ports for export.

This circular value chain demonstrates the complex and interconnected nature of value chains and the intrinsic opportunity for value-adding to our natural resources.

Regulatory Reform

Another key priority for our industry is getting the regulatory environment right.

We often hear about regulation in terms of cutting red tape. This is important. But balanced regulation is also critical to the innovation ecosystem, and for attracting investment.

Balancing the regulatory framework means that Australian businesses can have access to the latest chemistry, at the same time as our international competitors. This is crucial for businesses looking to innovate.

Many of the proposed reforms to NICNAS are positive, and bring Australia onto a more equal footing internationally.

But it’s important that those reforms do not disadvantage local manufacturing, for our industry and our customers.

When we look to the Road ahead

Significant change brings both risk and opportunity.

The priorities that I have outlined are the result of the industry’s Strategic Roadmap work.

The industry continues to evolve this strategy, working with governments and stakeholders at all levels to address barriers to investment and growth. We believe in this collaborative and proactive approach to change.

"Change is good", is often a mantra in business. In this case I think change is excellent!

We are very excited about the transition to Chemistry Australia, and we look forward to our continued work - with you - and on your behalf.



Chemistry Australia Media contacts:
Krista Imberger – [email protected] or 0439 318 290
Claire Selby – [email protected] or 0448 028 876

Chemistry Australia is the pre-eminent national body representing the $40 billion Australian chemistry industry, one of the largest manufacturing sectors in the country. The industry employs more than 60,000 people and contributes more than $11.6 billion to GDP in industry value add. Members of Chemistry Australia are positioned across the entire value chain including manufacturers, importers and distributors, logistics and supply chain partners, raw material suppliers, fabricators, compounders, recyclers, research, academia and service providers to the industry. These businesses range from small family-owned companies to leading national and multinational enterprises.




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