Is It That Important to Buy Australian?


Is it really that important to buy Australian?

If you’d been paying attention, not too long ago Australia experienced a panic surrounding frozen berries.

A bunch of products and a couple of brands were recalled, due to cases of Hepatitis A diagnosed after eating contaminated berries.

Many of the reactions were “See this is why you should buy Australian! Stop sending your money overseas!! Stop costing Australians jobs!”

I have a bit of a problem with this mentality. Don’t get me wrong, I totally get it. Supporting the economy within Australia is important, and supporting the local farmers is even more important.

However, people seem to forget importing products into Australia actually creates jobs. How do I know this? Well, I have one of them!

I work in the import/export industry. These are the types of jobs that are created because of bringing in products from other countries:

  1. Shipping lines – these are the companies that own vessels that bring in the containers of product. All types of products are shipped in containers, food included. There are offices in all the major cities for most of the major shipping lines.
  2. Freight forwarders – these companies are required to clear the product for both export (out of origin country) and import (into destination country). Freight forwarders are also the ones that deal with Australian Customs and AQIS (Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service) on your company’s behalf.
  3. Warehouses – once the product arrives into the country, most of the time you need to store the product until the customer requires it. We don’t own our own warehouse, so we use a third party warehouse, who store, and deliver on our behalf.
  4. Transport companies – these are the companies that we use to not only deliver to the customers, but also to pick up the product from the wharf, and bring back to the warehouse. There are transport companies that we use for specialised goods, namely dangerous goods, and oversized loads.

While it is important to use local, there are times where it’s just not possible, particularly in the industry I’m in. But that doesn’t mean that Australians are not benefiting from goods being imported from other countries. There are jobs that are created for the sole purpose of bringing goods into the country, and also for sending goods out of the country.

People also seem to forget that food in particular is seasonal. Not all fruits and vegetables grow all year round, so if you are wanting navel oranges for instance, these only grow between June and October, whereas in the United States, their season is September through to February. So if we want navel oranges in Australia between November and February, we will need to import them.

Having said that, in 2012-13, Australia’s export of oranges to other countries was at it’s highest, with Hong Kong importing over 30,000 tonnes. This also helps our economy.

So if something comes up that makes people question whether to buy Australian or not, will you automatically say “stop sending money overseas?” or will you remember those whose jobs in Australia rely on the import industry?

Do you buy Australian? Do you think it’s important?

  • Monique Fischle

    I had never really looked at it that way, but it so clearly makes sense that importing would create a lot of jobs. Thanks for pointing that out! I try to buy ‘brands’ as much as possible when grocery shopping rather than the generic homebrands to support Australian businesses. Sometimes it’s unavoidable though.

  • Melissa Savage

    This is so true and I’ve always felt uncomfortable with the dislike of imports too. I always figured it comes out in the wash, that we’re in a world economy, so it’s good for us if others are doing well.

    This piece is great, because you’ve really clarified something for me. The argument you’ve used is the same argument that, when I was a young teen and much more racist (repeating the lies and propaganda the people around me heard on the news I guess), completely changed my perspective on immigration. Essentially: immigration creates jobs, it doesn’t take them away, because every new person that moves to a country buys things from shops and uses tradespeople and rents a house and spends money in a thousand and one different businesses, thus stimulating the economy. It seems that a lot of the concern over imports and ‘our’ jobs is just xenophobia and racism dressed up in a different way.

  • maree Talidu

    I think it’s really important to buy Australian where possible, you hear about Aussie farmers doing it soooo tough. But there are always going to times when what you want isn’t available, so yep I’ll buy from overseas.

  • Jen

    Thank you for sharing your experience/knowledge of the importing/exporting industry – I think you make some very valuable points. But I am very very wary of an article of this nature. Yes there are times when it is not possible to buy Australian for good reason – produce not in season but there also (many more in my opinion) instances when Australian businesses/farmers require support and they benefit greatly from the push to buy local/Australian – this is something I am quite passionate about but I will certainly in the future ensure I remember to not automatically say “stop sending money overseas?” and also those reliant on Australia’s import industry. Well written article!

    • Jen

      I think as a final point in relation to the article title I would like to say it is THAT important to put consideration into what you buy