Last month, CRN contributor Adam Turner introduced readers to Four Tech Firms Still Manufacturing In Australia.
Like many “advanced” economies, Australia has seen its manufacturing base dwindle over recent years. Whilst the appeal of low-cost, off-shore manufacturing has seen price-sensitive manufacturers relocate, there are still those stalwart producers who value quality, convenience and supply chain security.
Turner’s article, which features Senetas an an all-Australian manufacturer of cyber-security solutions, comes at an interesting time for businesses in Australia. The Senetas success story is praiseworthy at a time when “old-school” manufacturing is in decline, but also raises awareness of the importance of supply chain security in the manufacture of cyber-security products.
While much has been made of the death of manufacturing in Australia, some locals who’ve stuck to their guns are producing world class products with an eye for quality which is often lost when manufacturing moves offshore.
Sitting on Asia’s doorstep works to Australia’s advantage when it comes to many exports, but it has long presented significant challenges for the country’s manufacturing sector.
The lure of offshore manufacturing is strong in the age of globalisation, especially when neighbouring countries can leverage low labour costs and the economies of scale to mass produce products at unbeatable prices.
Despite iconic manufacturers like Holden shutting up shop, you’ll still find Australian manufacturing success stories like ASX-listed Senetas, which makes high-speed encryption hardware.
The recent announcement by the Australian Signals Directorate that it was excluding Huawei (and others) from the 5G infrastructure program further highlights the importance of supply chain assurance within critical infrastructure. In essence, if technology components are manufactured in countries where they may be concerns about the presence of security “backdoors”, they are unlikely to meet the most fundamental of supply chain assurance criteria.
One of the key criticisms of proposed legislation, like the Australian Assistance and Access Bill, within the Five Eyes Alliance (Australia, New Zealand, Canada, US, & UK) is that it threatens supply chain security and integrity. Even a hint of a legislative agenda that favours the weakening of encryption standards, or the mandating of backdoors, is enough to cast doubt over the entire manufacturing process.
In his interview with Risky Business, Senetas CEO Andrew Wilson reiterates the importance of these issues and asks the question “Do legislators consider the broader implications of weakening security standards on local manufacturers?”