Australian Left Review


Greg Crough


The Australian manufacturing industry is in crisis. In the last decade manufacturing employment levels have dec l ined substantially, production has stagnated, and thousands of companies have been taken over or ceased operations. The relative de c l in e o f the im po r tan ce o f the manufacturing industry, however, has been symptomatic of the profound process of structural change that is occurring in the Australian economy and society, a process which will if it remains unchecked by the forces of labor inevitably lead to the further integration of Australia into a world system over which national control is very difficult. This process of structural change affecting the manufacturing industry is the inevitable result of a variety of factors, including the gradual liberalisation of trade, technological change, and changes in patterns of demand due to factors such as demographic influences. I would argue, however, that the major force accelerating and accentuating these changes is the transnational corporation, which in the last two decades has come to assume a position of critical importance in the capitalist world system. The transnational corporations are the major beneficiaries of free trade, they are the ,, most technologically dynamic entities in the world, and they are involved in activities across a broad spectrum of the economy influencing patterns of demand, life styles and attitudes.



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