The Australian Government needs to give its anti-Russian sanctions homegrown teeth 

Harrison Manufacturing Company CEO Julie Harrison discusses the ongoing threat to Australia's sovereign manufacturing sector.  

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Newspaper article featuring A.S Harrison, dated 1926.

100 years is a ripe old age in anyone’s book. The Harrison Group celebrates that milestone in October.

Unlike our fellow Australian centenarians, however, here at Harrison Manufacturing, which stands on the shoulders of our founding company born in 1923, we appreciate it’s not standard for a business to receive a congratulatory letter from the King.

But maybe it should be. We’ve certainly got durability on our side.

For a century, our products and know-how have been the lifeblood to some of Australia’s, and the world’s, most important industries and infrastructure. We have grown to become Australia’s largest and oldest independent developer, manufacturer, distributor, exporter, and authority on all things lubricant, including grease, lubrication oils, release agents, and speciality additives.

We do innovation too.

Our R&D company, Harrison SPARC was recently awarded a $ 1.9million Critical Minerals grant by the Australian Government, which we will match dollar for dollar. This investment will see our expert chemists work to improve the extraction rate of critical minerals and value add. It will also ensure the Harrison Group, and our 140-strong workforce, play a frontline role in helping Australia transition from quarry to the world’s critical minerals superpower.

My point is Harrison has manufacturing form. Our unrivalled longevity equips us with historical oversight and prescience to understand the opportunities and dangers our sector has faced since 1923. And the risk to the Australian manufacturing sector today is acute.

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Operating in Australia since 1923, The Harrison Group has 100 years experience assessing risks and opportunities our manufacturing sector faces.

Russia, an ongoing threat

Australian companies who are acting with integrity to support our government’s stance against Russia are fighting against the globalisation of procurement players not bound by the Australian government’s Russian sanctions.

18 months ago, the world watched in horror as Ukraine was invaded. Harrison Manufacturing applauded our government’s stance as it joined with our allies to condemn the invasion and impose sanctions on the importation of Russian products.

We believe in our government’s stance, fully support it, and adhere to it. Our position on this is continually confirmed by the six-monthly checks by our banking partner, ensuring we have no Russian-sourced or value-added products in any of our operations or supply lines. We simply do not supply to Russia, and we do not take from Russia. We do stick to this approach because it is the right thing to do, but we are not competing on a level playing field.

Specifically, Russia itself continues to flood the global market with cheap raw materials, including oil and lithium, to fund its war. We know, through our procurement contacts, international competitors, including some who operate within Australia, continue to buy deeply discounted Russian materials and sell into the Australian markets, unconcerned with the morality of buying from Russia.

A call for robust restrictions

With the cost of non-Russian base oil sitting approximately 30% higher and cheap Russian oil being dumped into the markets, with no foreseeable end to the war this represents an enormous and immediate risk to Australia’s sovereign manufacturing capabilities, and will damage our Australian economy substantially in the short and medium term. The time has come to give Russian sanctions more teeth.

To counter these real and immediate threats all products imported into Australia, whether for use here or for export, must adhere to the Australian Government’s strict Russian sanctions.

All companies operating in Australia, whether Australian or internationally owned, must be required to certify and prove that none of their raw materials (such as petroleum or lithium) used in their operations or sourced from their supply chains are Russian, or Russian-sourced.

Protecting Australia-made: all companies operating here must prove that none of their raw materials are Russian.

There is precedent for more robust and effective restrictions on all companies. In 2018, Australia passed the Modern Slavery Act. This requires all companies based or operating in Australia with annual revenue of more than $100 million to report annually on the risks of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains, and to take substantial steps to address those risks. 

Likewise, any imported product for use in Australia today must adhere to the Australian Government’s requirements of not using any Russian components. Only by legislating change can we help Australia’s homegrown manufacturing withstand ongoing market shocks due to Russia’s continuing aggression and dumping of materials, and we should all stand firmly with Ukraine because it is the right thing to do.

In Summary: Here at Harrison, as we celebrate our first 100 years, we and our Australian employees and all of our customers would welcome stronger safeguards of our national and our industry’s interests with the delivery of much stronger and more effective sanctions to help us achieve our next 100 years and support those suffering in Ukraine by reducing the flow of resources into the Russian war machine.

We’d take that over a letter from the King any day.