Buying Australian-made column oil heaters: an indictment of our nation’s industrial demise

Contributed article (a personal story from an APP member)

About fifteen years ago I bought a Vulcan column oil heater, which was made in Australia. Unfortunately, it stopped working last week. Oh well, no problems, I’ll just buy a new one.

That was my first mistake, thinking that I could buy an Australian-made column oil heater. More fool me.

In the last fifteen years, heaps of companies making products in Australia have been put out of business by cheap Asian imports. And many of those which didn’t go under sacked their Australian workers and now instead import cheap foreign goods, commonly from China.

I have tried to buy Australian-made products whenever I can (especially those made by Australian-owned companies), but it is getting harder and harder to do so. For many product types, especially electrical goods, it is virtually impossible.

Well, back to my oil heater problem. It turns out that Vulcan was taken over by another company, and they don’t make column oil heaters. In fact, as far as I could find out, no-one in Australia makes column oil heaters anymore!

Almost everything electrical is being made overseas (the vast majority, anyway). And this is just the tip of the iceberg. No wonder we have so many unemployed people in Australia.

However, there is a happy ending to this tale. It turns out that it was the power board connected to the heater which wasn’t working. And that was made in China! (Does anyone know of any power boards that are being made in Australia nowadays?) So, the good old Aussie-made column heater was still going strong, even after well over a decade of constant use.

I guess the moral of my story is three-fold: 1) that we need to start protecting Australian industries, 2) we need to re-establish the industries that we have already lost, and 3) Aussie-made products are way better than the el cheapo Chinese rubbish.


  1. Interesting, I guess you all wrote your replies on your Australian made computers? Well protecting Ozzie industry will leave you doing just that – if you can find one oz made. Point is, it’s not the fault of manufacturers overseas, it’s the fault of the ever more protected and lazy Australian manufacturing worker, and their self serving brothel creeping union reps. Look at the great job we all did on the car industry. We pay on average $5000 more for an oz built car pour $100’s of millions in tax payer dollars and the total un reliability of the blokes to turn up on Monday sinks it all. Or how about beautiful Julia giving everyone in Kembla $150k industry adjustment payments when one steel shut down. There were jobs going begging in north west WA paying good wages, but we taxpayers paid for the steelworkers to stay put in a dead end town with no prospects of future jobs. What will they do when the money runout – the only thing they can do, move, or stay and go on welfare. Take a look at good old SA, that state lives on commonwealth handouts. It’s lucky there’s a million voters there or do you really think there’d be a sub industry there, or a now defunct car industry. Didn’t we learn anything from cities like Detroit? We pour taxpayer subsidy in and wonder why people become reliant on it. What happened to the Aussie spirt of give it a go? Hardship, mate ship, making do. I’ll tell you – it’s been destroyed by an evermore insidious and invasive government, there’s rules for everything starting with health safety and environment, industrial relations, human resources, gender and racial equality. That’s the reason business can’t compete with overseas. Half the day is spent filling in forms to comply with bullshit before you can even think about making or selling your product. And that’s the truth. Forget more rules and protectionism, less rules, smaller government. Government is not the solution, it’s the problem.

  2. the ringer from the west says

    We need a LEE KUAN YEW in Australia.

  3. Billy Blue says

    Oh we can’t even design a nuclear power station, it would need to be imported, probably even the fuel. And we pay 38c KW/h equivalent for power compared to America which charges 8c a KW/h in many places. And they produce less greenhouse gasses. Apparently overseas companies will be setting up a nuclear waste dump in Australia next year too for waste returned from Australian uranium sales. The companies will strip any wealth from this and eventually socialise the ongoing security for these facilities. It will only take 240,000 years. You think they will set up a trust for the money? We get the waste, and none of the benefits, clever country lol.

  4. Billy Blue says

    Ive noticed a trend on ebay lately to where goods are being marketed with rechargeable batteries that can be replaced,And they are often sporting faked compliance labels. The governments are spending millions on greenhouse gas amelioration but then they tolerate planned obsolescence. Cheap nasty fire hazards that are designed to last a year or two and then end up in land fill. Well there’s a hint to local manufacturers in some products theres a market for quality. Of course just buying local materials means it’s hard to compete in manufacturing as well. We need to be fostering new startups, helping access to materials. Clever country my foot.

  5. Clynton Brown says

    Yep what a complete joke I’ve taken to buying at tip shops etc to find Aussie made stuff! We need to stop this import mentality, we need to make things. You can’t rely on a ever growing population (that’s another sore point) to stumulate the economy.

  6. It’s just not going to happen. Made with spanners and not chop sticks went out the window ages ago.
    For Pete’s sake we can’t even make a box of matches in Oz.
    We’ve moved from a nation of manufacturers to a nation of pathetic welfare junkies.
    Unless we get off of our fat lazy arses and start to act like our forebears we will be Asia’s dumping ground. Just accept being white Asian trash, we only get what we let others laud on us.

    Unfortunately supporting Asian economies does sweet zitch for our self esteem or our economy.

    Look folk, buy Australian and stop this stupid pathetic bleating about Asian imports, of course I forget to mention that our illustrious over paid politicians need to get their heads out of their collective arses and do the job that they are already overpaid for doing. That is to ADVANCE AUSTRALIA FAIR.

  7. Great story 🙂 My mum used to work for a company called Malleys and they made everything from fridges to gas fires. Hard to believe that we used to make our own fridges not that long ago either. It employed over 500 people and produced 100’s of tradesmen through apprenticeships. What on earth have we done?

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