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Address to the Industrial Design Council - Mid River Review

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FRIDAY, 2 2 N D S E P TEMBER, 19 7 8


Consumers of Australian-manufactured products, whether at home

or in the important overseas marketplace, are increasingly-

demanding innovative, high-quality and durable .products

designed to meet their needs at competitive prices.

They are signalling that the day of the throw-away society

is coming to an end in most respects. As a Department, our j .

concern is to see that these more discriminating demands from

both consumers and industry can be met through the deliberate

and more rapid development of Australian innovation and design.

How are we doing this? .

One major thrust of the Government's industry-oriented programs

is to stimulate and assist Australian industry to focus attention

on innovation, quality and productivity improvement. The

Government specifically supports Australian design and

inventiveness, and that support and protection will continue

and be kept under continuous review.

The thrust of the Government's commitment to innovation is

also reflected in the significant increase of 75% in funds

allocated in the Budget to the Industrial Research and Development

Incentives Scheme,including the funding for the first time of

the public interest aspects of IR&D which will allow support

for projects of national importance.

There are many such potentially major innovations which could

lead to the development of new industries and new export-

competing Australian products.

Sirotherm, CSIRO's invention for large-scale desalination of

water,is one example. The new electronic ear implant

developed by Melbourne University is another. This device is

based on the micro-electronic revolution which revolutionised

computing in recent years. With the appropriate support this

product has considerable export potential. There are other

examples: in micrographics, electric vehicles or the new

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process technologies.

Another most important part of our activities is represented

by the productivity improvement programs being carried out

by my Department. They were especially funded to the extent

,of $1.2 million in this year's Budget, indicating their group

acceptance. ' ·

In the area of Patents I have legislation before Parliament

in this and subsequent sessions to improve the legislative

climate for the appropriate promotion as well as the protection

of innovation, and to facilitate the more rapid dissemination

of innovative ideas. I have announced the formation of the

Australian Patent Information Service which will make information

of innovation patented in Australia and overseas more readily

available to industry.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce has also announced

"Project Australia" which aims to heighten community awareness

of Australian skills, achievements and potential and to encourage

improvements in product quality, product design and marketing. - . *

Project Australia will emphasise the theme of "designed and

made in Australia".

All of these programs depend on, the active co-operation of

industry and government. The importance of bodies such as

the Industrial Design Council of Australia in ensuring the

success and economic viability of Australian manufacturing

industry cannot be underestimated.

Therefore it is extremely timely that the IDCA is meeting

for this mid-term review to chart its future directions and

purposes more clearly. I am delighted to take part and have

this opportunity to contribute to yotir deliberations and ,

offer you the continuing support -of my Department.

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The importance of quality cannot be overstated if we are

to achieve the kind of dynamic and competitive manufacturing

industry Australia will need to provide job opportunities for

a more discriminating and better-educated workforce.

I use the term "Quality" in its widest sense. It embraces

matters such as : ’ . ■ ,

l design for functionality and appearance ■ ■ '

• L conformity to internationally acceptable standards

. testing, evaluation and accreditation of the product

. product reliability and durability and . '

. quality control

Good design is critical to product quality. Not only is

it important in regard to its functionality and appearance,

but it has a major impact on its reliability. Today's

consumer is looking for a product to suit the purpose for

- which it is intended, for which there is adequate maintenance

support, and which has the greater durability.

The government strongly endorses and supports the efforts

of organisations which are spreading the awareness of quality

throughout Australian industry. We look with pride at the

results the IDCA has achieved to date and expect to see even

greater achievements in the future.

It is critical to our competitive situation that the efforts

of organisations involved in quality management be co-ordinated.

The closest co-operation, I believe, is necessary between bodies

such as the Australian Organisation For Quality Control, the

Standards Association of Australia, the National Association

of Testing Authorities, the National Safety Council and the " .

Industrial Design Council, of Australia. My Department will be

actively working with them all to engender a co-ordinated

approach to the development of quality in Australia.

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The productivity improvement proghams now going on in a number

of industry sectors,including footwear, clothing, textiles,

forging and tyres, constantly emphasise quality aspects as a

component of improved productivity. In fact my Department

has received a suggestion for a quality award in the footwear

industry. . I see this as an opportunity for close co-operation

between that industry and the IDCA and perhaps this suggests

a need for your council to expand its activities to include all

sectors of industry.

I made reference earlier to Project Australia. This project

has been funded to the level of $1.1 million this financial

year and offers another opportunity for extensive IDCA

involvement in the government's programs aimed at stimulating

Australian industry. It is anticipated that groups and

J individuals will be encouraged to participate actively in the program and to come forward with suggestions and proposals

which would contribute to its effectiveness. From my point

of view I would like to see the slogan "Designed and Made in

Australia" become a reality for all Australian products. To

talk simply of "Made in Australia" is to miss the point - if

we are,to compete,goods most be designed, made and sold in

Australia and exported from Australia.

Thus, the council's continued involvement in the promotion

and practical assistance to industry in the broad area of

industrial design is an essential element in the success

of Australian industry. ■

Your field advisory service, through its activities of

alerting manufacturers to possible product improvements

by the application of industrial design principles, has

already substantially contributed to the development of

quality Australian products. ^

My Department is currently developing the early stages of

a technology transfer network within Australia. Through V5


this project Australian manufacturers with a particular

technical problem or information need can be referred to

centres of relevant expertise for assistance. I see the

IDCA field officers providing links into this network since

they come into close contact with a variety of industries and

I am sure they encounter many industrial problems which are

not strictly related to design. Through this network, field

officers will be able to help promote the range of expertise

available to manufacturers. Hopefully, the network will also

Increase referrals to designers from other sources.

The work of the field officers is not widely appreciated

in the general community. Let me mention several cases :

the Precision Grinding Company in South Australia is an

example of a company benefiting significantly from the

assistance of field officers. The "UNIMAC" universal

machine tool produced as a result of assistance provided

by the field advisory service, is an innovative design of

an extremely versatile machine tool for the tradesman and

hobbyist. It was awarded an Australian Design Award and

was one of the finalists for the recent Prince Philip prize.

The company has received hundreds of enquiries following the

telecast of the Prince Philip prize presentation and is

planning to expand its operations to meet the increased

demand for this product. This is just one of many examples

of field officers facilitating innovation in design.

The Australian Design Award provides widespread recognition

of quality by focussing on excellence of innovation and

design. Both manufacturer and consumer benefit by this

certification. The assurance to consumers inherent in the

award has resulted in significant market penetration for

such products- ' * ■

Another case involves Brian Davis Pty Ltd, which manufactures

an extensive range of low-cost plastic kitchenware, many of


which have won Australian Design Awards for their innovative

use of plastics technology. This Australian company exports

these products to many parts of the world, including,

surprisingly, Japan.

Increased export market penetration such as that being

achieved by this company is going to be essential to the

future of Australian industry. . The IDCA, through the '

Australian Design Award Program, is therefore playing an

important part in quality improvement and, as a result,

contributes to the ability of products to compete on the

international market.

As the short-term beneficiary’of IDCA programs, Australian '

industry has rapidly expanded its financial support for the

Council’s programs. This surely is the true indicator of

the success of these programs, a barometer by which to assess

their effectiveness. Both Commonwealth and State Governments

recognise the benefits to industry of your programs and even

more importantly, the benefits which flow to the general

community. It is worth noting that over half the income of

the IDCA comes from Commonwealth and State Governments. Surely,

we are entitled to expect more from industry in future as the

marketplace benefits of professional design and quality assistance

are more widely accepted.

It is one thing for us to promote and encourage the use of

innovative design in this way. However, I wonder whether there

are enough competent designers in Australia with the appropriate

training to allow an increase in this activity? There is a

lot of scepticism in industry today about the values of a

purely academic education.

The development of designers should emphasise both academic

training and practical experience in industry. Because of its

close links with manufacturers and educational institutions?the

Council is in a unique position to influence the development of

training strategy for the design profession.



Australia lacks a recognized design image and I would suggest

that you might examine ways of promoting the excellence of

Australian design in the world marketplace. I hope that your -

new publication aimed at promoting international awareness of

Australian-designed products goes a long way towards achieving

that objective. · · '

I note in the summary of the' NSW submission to this review that

considerable emphasis is placed on planning of resources,

priorities, forecasts and results. These aspects are most

important if your organisation is to demonstrate your results

and future directions to your supporters. The IDCA cannot

afford to operate on a year-to-year basis and I sincerely tbust

that the outcome of this "Mid-River" review will be a strong and

well-structured long-term plan backed up with appropriate

strategy. ,