It’s up to us to build an Industry 4.0 that works for everyone

It’s up to us to build an Industry 4.0 that works for everyone



When the industrial age ignited in Australia in the 1800s, few could have predicted the extent to which decisions made back then would continue to transform the lives of Australians nearly two centuries later.

It may come as a surprise to learn that only a small group of around two hundred entrepreneurs with vision, passion and tenacity built the industries that have marked the pages of our nation’s history.

With so much of our nation’s future rested on the decisions made by a small group of individuals, how do we make sure the benefits are enjoyed by everyone, ensure no one is left behind and give all Australians a chance to turn their vision into a viable business?

You might say government or other public-interest organisations are up to the task, but a unique feature of the fourth industrial revolution is the speed at which innovation is evolving, outpacing the same people who designed these technologies in the first place.

It may sound strange, but think of John Markley from Mackay-based consultancy Farmacist[1]  who is still collecting the data needed [2] [3] to continually improve his nutrient chemical control hardware despite being launched more than twenty years ago.

More broadly, think of automation which has been on the scene for nearly two decades, but only entered the public imagination in recent years with entrepreneurs still unpacking its potential.

To stay ahead of the curve and protect the interests of all those who may be affected, the simple message received by law makers, executives and entrepreneurs is that emerging technologies must work for the community and by the community.

The Group of Twenty, an international forum of the twenty largest economies in the world, have designed the human-centred economic growth charter to help decision-makers share the benefits of technological change with their stakeholders.

A key principle of this charter, as explored in an earlier Transformation Region article, is that technological progress should augment human potential, rather than automate it, meaning stakeholders should be empowered by technology, not controlled by it.

It’s also up to all stakeholders, not just shareholders or policy makers, to shape expectations around how new technologies are deployed by participating in public dialogues like the Transformation Region, giving everyone a chance to have a say.

We saw the need to hardwire social inclusion into our economy during the COVID-19 pandemic when jobs vanished overnight, digital technologies were rolled-out at break neck speed and governments were stuck in reactive mode, affecting millions of lives in a matter of hours. 

While lives and livelihoods were saved, working from home and automation accelerated in major industries like mining, financial services and healthcare, deepening the divide between members of the community caught on either side of technological change.

Although some people may flourish in a world of remote work, others may be worse off without meaningful involvement in the conversation, prompting policy or regulatory responses that may stifle innovation or fail to accommodate the diverse views of a community.

There are countless examples that signal a divide between Australians either benefitting or being misplaced by the fourth industrial revolution, but like previous generations, community leadership will help fill the gap, supporting the next generation of businesses.

The Morrison Government is investing almost $800 million to help businesses take advantage of digital technologies and future fuels. The Greater Whitsunday region is looking to take advantage of this investment particularly in the areas of digital technology to support emerging sectors like future foods and manufacturing to help grow our economy. 

Inclusive growth means all Australians must get ahead of the curve by participating in their community’s transformation, whether it be by investing in the workforce or helping shape the deployment of new technologies in your industry.

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