The tariff battles continue

While the handbooks where a huge focus for APMA activities in the 1980s, the association also remained focussed on making its case to federal government regarding industry-protecting tariffs.

During his period as President, Bruce Ellis developed and presented APMA’s case to Keating’s Industry Assistance Commission (now the Productivity Commission) on the potential damage the proposed major cuts to tariffs would have on the local pump manufacturing industry.

1984-Canberra-Conference-&-Exhibition-3Bruce recalled: “I presented a pump industry view to the Industries Assistance Commission (IAC). The IAC recommendation was to reduce pump tariffs down to just five per cent. The IAC’s view was that it would force manufacturers to become more competitive. The pump industry view was that it would force manufacturers to look at their options, with the most likely option being to import pumps rather than make them in Australia.

“This was especially likely considering the fact that most manufacturers were either overseas owned or had existing strong licence agreements or commercial relationships with overseas pump companies.”

However, despite these recommendations from within the pump industry, the tariff duties on imports declined from 25 per cent in 1989 to just five per cent in 1996 – establishing the 1990s as a period of considerable upheaval for the industry.

1984-Canberra-Conference-&-Exhibition-4“I think that history has shown that the pump industry view was more accurate,” commented Bruce. “However, it is great to see that a few pump manufacturers such as TKL, United, Warman, and Mono have continued to make pumps locally.”

It is also important to note that it would not be possible to build sophisticated, modern pump systems in Australia, that have a worthy place on the global stage, had the tariffs on pumps (and the various parts involved in their construction) not been cut.

While tariff reductions have changed the Australian pump industry, they have also opened it up to innovation, allowing cutting edge products, parts and technology to be imported from overseas and reconfigured or developed into innovative, cutting-edge products and technologies that only the Australian pump manufacturing industry can offer.

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