[LINK] Smartcard jobs move over the ditch

brd at iimetro.com.au brd at iimetro.com.au
Tue Oct 10 14:02:29 AEST 2006

I don't know if it is The Australian, or in this case a disgruntled vendor
having a whinge, but here's another case of misleading information.

According to a Senate Committee, the cards referred to are not smart cards but
are the traditional magnetic stripe cards.

Smartcard jobs move over the ditch
Andrew Colley
OCTOBER 10, 2006
The Australian

RELENTLESS competition from low-cost offshore technology suppliers has left
another 60 Australian hi-tech workers facing unemployment.

Leigh Mardon Australia has decided to shut down its smartcard factory in
Melbourne and move its manufacturing operations from Highett to Christchurch,
in New Zealand.

Leigh Mardon Australia managing director Robert Taylor said 70 jobs at the
Highett plant would be cut and only 10 workers were expected to be re-employed
in other parts of the business.

Between 30 and 40 positions would be created in New Zealand, Mr Taylor said. He
cited competition from offshore manufacturers, including those in China, as
playing a key role in the company's decision to consolidate its manufacturing
in New Zealand.

"We've already seen the Government make the decision to allow health cards for
Medicare to be sourced out of China by another supplier," he said.

"I've really got to consider how I compete for that opportunity because it is a
very significant opportunity."

Leigh Mardon was outbid for the federal Government's Medicare and veterans'
smartcard contracts by German-owned Giesecke and Devrient's Australasian

In January, the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union called on federal Health
Minister Tony Abbott to provide assurances that the health smartcards would not
be sourced from China.

AMWU national secretary Doug Cameron said Australia's manufacturing sector had
shed 40,000 jobs since 2001.

"This is part of the lack of vision by the Australian Government," Mr Cameron

"It's one of the key economic problems of this Government: it doesn't have any
sense of maintaining a strong manufacturing sector.

"Where it can intervene and use government purchasing decisions or influence as
other governments do overseas, it just fails to do it."

The manufacturing sector shrank by 1.1 per cent during the 12 months to June 30,
2005 and by 0.5 per cent during the 2006 financial year, according to AMWU

The union's statistics indicate also that Australia's manufacturing exports fell
$2.8 billion between June 2000 and June 2005.

Two weeks ago, Mr Taylor foreshadowed the decision to close the Highett plant.

He said Leigh Mardon was considering a restructure in Australia after the card
maker and its majority shareholder, American Banknote, acquired APN News and
Media's smartcard operations in Australia and New Zealand.


Bernard Robertson-Dunn
Sydney Australia
brd at iimetro.com.au

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