Infrastructure includes people who are skilled to operate the machinery, production lines, or whatever the product demands. How do we maintain such a group ready for action, perhaps for decades?
If these manufacturing systems are going to operate locally all the time then they will have to be subsidised. Providing buildings and gear will not magically make our wages competitive with the places that we import from now.
If the systems are not going to operate constantly then there is an overhead in keeping the gear ready to work, in the cost of ownership and maintaining operator skills. As well there will be a delay in starting up production and getting supply lines filled.
If we are going to be ready to quickly deal with all manner of crisis then there will need to be warehouses full of stuff ready to use just in case. At least some of this will go to waste which is another overhead cost.
I don’t mind if the majority of Australians are actually prepared to pay such costs over the time we wait for the next crisis for the sake of improved security. Where I have the problem is with those who think it is just a matter of altering policy and that there is no significant ongoing cost.
I have heard the lament about the lost opportunity as local manufacturing declines from many people for decades. People who I generally respect have told me how it is such a shame that we mine the ores to make stuff, send it overseas and then buy it back as finished products, we ought to stop all this export then import rubbish and do the manufacturing here. All that it will take is for those in Canberra to do the right thing. This is a fairly popular sentiment still today.
I direct you to the case study of the vehicle manufacturing industry, it had decades of subsidies and favourable treatment of various kinds. It had the Button Plan and a great deal of good will not to mention money given to it, we did a huge amount to keep that capability and those jobs here. Didn’t work.