ISBN 1 875606 68 8
This book is a fascinating account of the transformation wrought in recent years within a vital sector of Australian industry.
Since late last century efforts have been made to develop a local capacity to make munitions and other equipment needed for defence purposes. From shortly before the First World War a range of government-owned factories were created. Over time these facilities became bloated, inefficient, unprofitable and increasingly obsolescent in operation, and heavily dependent for survival upon taxpayer subsidies. Despite numerous attempts at commercial revitalisation, Australian defence manufacturing was, by the mid-1980s, at crisis point.
Chris Clark describes the transition of the Office of Defence Production from a government bureaucracy to ADI Limited, a Commonwealth-owned company run by an independent board of directors as a fully commercial enterprise. Within a few years of corporatisation in 1988, the company turned a parlous situation about, becoming profitable. In 1999 ADI was privatised, with its ownership passing to a non-government consortium.
Breaking Free is a timely case study of one of the largest and most remarkable exercises in micro-economic reform undertaken in the government sector in Australia.