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Economy

Manufacturing

After World War II ended in 1945, the introduction of new industries and the development of existing ones led to a substantial expansion of manufacturing activity in Australia. In 1950 manufacturing contributed about 30 percent of the country’s GDP. The expansion continued during the 1950s and 1960s, when factory employment rose by 70 percent. But in the 1970s the growth of manufacturing stalled, and the contribution of this sector to the economy, especially in terms of employment, declined substantially. At the same time, economic reforms that ended protectionist policies forced Australian industries to become more competitive. Manufacturing became increasingly export-oriented in the 1980s and 1990s, and by the end of the century the proportion of sales made to overseas markets approached 30 percent of the total. Principal branches of the manufacturing sector by value of production are metals and metal products, food products, transportation equipment, machinery, chemicals and chemical products, textiles and clothing, wood and paper products, and printing, publishing, and recording media. Despite Australia’s wealth of mineral resources, mineral processing is limited.

Manufacturing facilities are concentrated in New South Wales (especially in Sydney and Newcastle), Victoria (primarily in the Melbourne metropolitan area), and secondarily in the state capitals and main provincial centers. New South Wales is noted for the production of iron and steel, jet aircraft, construction equipment, synthetic fibers, electronic equipment, power cables, and petroleum and petrochemical products. In Melbourne, industrial activity includes the manufacture and assembly of machinery and motor vehicles and the production of food and clothing. Geelong, located near Melbourne, is an important industrial center; manufactures include wool, motor vehicles, smelted aluminum, phosphate fertilizers, and petrochemicals. Traditionally a pastoral and agricultural state, South Australia developed several important manufacturing centers after 1950, including Adelaide and Whyalla. Brisbane and Townsville, in Queensland, have significant numbers of factories. Tasmanian industry, assisted by inexpensive hydroelectric power, includes electrolytic zinc mills, paper mills, and a large confectionery factory. Hobart and Launceston are the primary manufacturing centers in Tasmania.

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