A message from Jens Goennemann

A happy new financial year to you.

I begin 2022/23 with optimism: About manufacturing, Australia’s place in the future, and about the work of AMGC in the near-term and beyond.

I recently returned from a short trip to Europe and the United States, first for Hannover Messe and associated events, then to Washington as a member of the American Chamber’s “Alliance Summit”. 

As always, there is too much to recall it all faithfully and succinctly, but some highlights included stops at Siemens’ centre in the medtech hotspot of Nuremberg and returning to the aerospace zone south of Munich where I spent my earlier career.

The most compelling visit was not in Germany but in Austria, to Voestalpine’s Linz site, which hosts R&D by the European Union-backed H2FUTURE project. Voestalpine sees great potential in green steel, particularly in Europe’s automotive industry, and aims to make its operations carbon neutral by 2050.    

The H2FUTURE site is important since it doesn’t just talk about hydrogen – it uses it, and which is appealing to steel companies and their customers. It is some way from being commercially viable, but it is a tangible start. Voestalpine says that decarbonising its steelmaking would require 400 times the green hydrogen produced at Linz, which was the largest pilot site for green hydrogen when its electrolyser began operating in 2019.

I was impressed by the ambition of the companies involved, the commitment to the long R&D path ahead, and the example that it’s not what you make (steel in this case), but how you make it.

The main takeaway from discussions in Washington was that America is in a heavily inward-looking phase, but this will end after the midterm elections in November this year. This matters, because of our special relationship with our larger international partner.

Why does Australia matter to our American friends? Simply, it’s 100-plus years of mateship, starting in France in WWI.

I asked the question to the CEO of an American think tank on a previous visit why our little country with less people than Texas mattered to the US, and he told me, “Because whenever we are at war you have shown up first, and you have done that for the last 100 years. It cannot be said about any other country.” 

That goes a very long way. Our bond has only intensified with the AUKUS partnership – together with its opportunities for manufacturing. 

The sharing of critical technologies for nuclear submarines inevitably comes up with AUKUS, but the implications are far greater, and the collaboration between our countries (and of course the UK) on Advanced Capabilities is profound, taking in undersea robotics, hypersonics, quantum technologies and five other domains. Making very complex things feeds into each of these.

AUKUS is a definite opportunity to lift our ability to manufacture at the highest level. Let’s keep doing our homework amongst us – the most advanced manufacturers in the country – and climb on the economic complexity index so that we can absorb the sophisticated opportunities washing up on our shores in the years to come.