Manufacturing Industry Fact Sheet

This fact sheet provides an overview of the legal, operational and business issues relevant to the manufacturing industry, which includes businesses that are involved in transforming materials, substances or components into new products.

Manufacturers are responsible for producing a diverse range of products including:

  • food
  • beverage and tobacco
  • textiles, leather, clothing and footwear
  • wood products
  • pulp and paper
  • printing
  • chemicals (including fertilisers, pesticides, pharmaceutical, medicinal, cleaning products, toiletries, cosmetics, photographic and explosive)
  • metals and plastics
  • machinery and equipment
  • furniture.

As well as the information in this fact sheet, you should check our general business information for additional regulations and obligations relevant to your business. For further advice and assistance, contact your accountant, solicitor or business advisor.

See our topics on this page for detailed information on the manufacturing industry:


Industry research is an important part of planning for your business. It may uncover economic and industry trends, establish or improve your business and help you keep pace with your industry.

Key government sources for industry specific statistics on the manufacturing industry include:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) The Industry Overview section of the ABS website provides performance indicators, business structures, employment figures, manufacturing prices and more.
  • Department of Industry, Innovation and Science The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science publishes data and publications, including details of available support programs.

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Key legislation & initiatives

Legislation often plays a large part in how you run your business, so it’s important to be aware of the laws that apply to your industry. Key legislation that may affect businesses in the manufacturing industry includes:

You can have your say on government policy and regulation affecting the future of your industry by registering on the Business consultation website.

Manufacturing standards

In addition to legislation, you should also be aware of manufacturing and processing standards to ensure your products, services and systems are safe and reliable:

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Licences & permits

The types of licences and permits your manufacturing business needs will depend on what you produce and the materials or substances used in the production process. Some of the Federal Government licences that apply to manufacturing businesses are listed below:

Search the Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) website to find out what licences and permits you need for your industry.

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If you employ staff, you need to comply with Australia’s national workplace laws and the specific requirements in your industry:

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Finance & tax

There are a number of finance and tax measures relevant to the manufacturing industry, including:

  • Goods and Services Tax (GST)
    It’s important to know your GST obligations to ensure you are selling your products at the correct price and that you’re registered with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to ensure you can claim your GST credits. See the ATO Food industry page for specific details on GST for food producers.
  • Importing goods
    For manufacturers importing goods, you need to be aware that GST and duty apply on certain imports. Visit Importing and Exporting for further information.
  • Certain Inputs to Manufacture The CIM program provides import duty concessions on certain imported raw materials and intermediate goods such as chemical, plastics or paper products. Metal materials and goods used for the packaging of food are also covered by the program.

See more detailed information on how to manage your finances.

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Grants and assistance available to businesses in the manufacturing industry are typically made available to help improve business productivity and innovation or support businesses affected by regional job losses. This is in addition to a variety of grants and assistance open to businesses from all industries. Grant schemes change over time, but generally cover:

  • improving manufacturing technology and innovation
  • assistance with exporting
  • improving energy efficiency
  • receiving specific business advice.

Search Grants & Assistance to find more grants and assistance programs for the manufacturing industry.

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Workplace Health & Safety (WHS)

Manufacturing businesses have general health and safety duties to design safely, test their products and prevent risks to workers throughout the production process. Most fatalities in this industry are caused by:

  • being hit by falling objects
  • vehicle accidents
  • handling harmful chemicals
  • being trapped in machinery or between stationary and moving objects
  • falls from height.

Generally, your business will be covered by standard WHS regulations. Depending on your use of machinery, you must also abide by regulations governing the use of plant equipment according to design specifications.

In the event of a work-related accident or illness, you must provide access to first aid, fair workers’ compensation and return to work rehabilitation. Visit Insurance and workers compensation for more details.

In addition to OH&S regulations covering the safety of workers, you may also have a responsibility to provide safety information to end users, often through an instruction manual or proper labelling.

If you notice a design or manufacturing fault of a product you’ve manufactured, you may need to recall your product.

Need help understanding your WHS obligations? Try these resources:

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As well as compulsory insurance such as workers compensation, there is a wide variety of insurance options for businesses in the manufacturing industry.

Insurance options vary between providers, but you may wish to look at insuring your business for machinery breakdown, consumer product liability and property damage or theft. Specific types of insurance include:

  • General liability – cover against legal liability for personal injury, property damage and advertising liability.
  • Assets and revenue insurance – protects your assets and income stream.
  • Professional indemnity insurance – covers potential damages relating to negligence or breach of duty created by an error, omission or act during the delivery of professional services.
  • Machinery breakdown insurance – covers repair costs when breakdown or accidental damage occurs to fixed machinery, boilers or pressure vessels.
  • Business interruption insurance – covers the loss of income caused by interruptions to your business following plant or equipment failure.

Visit Insurance and workers compensation for details on general insurance options for business.

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Intellectual Property (IP)

As well as trade marks, there are other IP rights that may be relevant to manufacturing businesses:

  • Patents - protecting a method, device or system that is new and inventive can be an effective way of protecting your IP.
  • Confidentiality / trade secrets – can be used to stop employees from revealing secret knowledge during and after their employment.
  • Registered designs – protects the visual appearance of a manufactured product by preventing others from using the design without permission.
  • Circuit layout rights - automatically protects original layout designs for integrated circuits and computer chips.

IP Australia is the federal government agency responsible for granting rights in patents, trade marks and designs. Visit the IP Australia website to find out more about your IP options.

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Industry training

Industry training can be an important part of your business’ survival. New manufacturing methods, safety procedures or marketing strategies can often help improve your competitiveness and grow your business. Need some help getting started?

  • See Training for tips on training yourself and your staff.
  • Search Events to find government events, seminars, training courses and workshops.
  • The Manufacturing Skills Australia website provides information on training packages suitable to manufacturing businesses.

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Businesses in the manufacturing industry often rely heavily on the environment and see the greatest benefits and impacts. Making environmentally conscious decisions such as using energy efficient machinery, waste reduction and off-setting emissions can not only reduce your impact on the environment but also improve your bottom line. The main environmental issues that businesses in the manufacturing industry you should be aware of include:

  • dealing with resource shortages
  • sustainable practices
  • environmental reporting
  • proper disposal of trade waste
  • biodegradable packaging options
  • waste management and reduction.

Visit Environmental management for advice on how you can manage your impact on the environment.

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Key government organisations & websites

The key federal government agencies and websites relevant to the manufacturing industry include:

The key state government agencies relevant to the manufacturing industry include:

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Key advisors

Business advisors can be a valuable tool when establishing and developing your business in your industry. Search Advisory Services to find one near you.

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Industry groups

You may also wish to consult with an industry association or group for more information and advice on your industry.

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Useful information

Information that may be particularly relevant to the manufacturing industry include:

See something not quite right? Let us know on our contact us page.

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