Food producers, manufacturers and farmers from Victoria have urged politicians to adopt a bipartisan approach to industry policy and create business certainty to protect further job loss, following the string of high-profile closures in the state.
According to the article on the ABC, around 150 people have gathered at the Geelong showground for the Australian Manufacturing and Farming Program Industry Day, where they discussed the problems facing the Victorian industry.
Jamie Baensch, General Manager of Air Radiators and Chairman of the Geelong Manufacturing Council, said the industry required improved policy setting and stability to thrive.
“Where we really want some help is to have a bipartisan strategy, some sort of accord or principals so we’re not seeing changes,” he said.
Jake Dingle, the Chief Executive of Carbon Revolution — which announced it would hire up to 300 more staff to develop carbon-fibre wheels after it was awarded a government grant, agreed with his assessment.
“We’re in a growth phase and we’ve committed to Geelong,” he said, pointing out that the government can help manufacturing businesses by investing in R&D and training.
Oil producers told the forum their biggest issue was labelling. The oil industry has agreed to a national standard for labelling, but it does not apply to imported products and is yet to be mandated.
Rob McGavin from Boundary Bend said the lack of regulation in the way oils were labelled were “ripping off” customers and jeopardised the future of his business, which employs 100 workers. He said he was pleased to have communicated these issues to Federal Senators Nick Xenaphon and John Madigan.
“To be honest this hasn’t been an easy business, we’ve really looked over the edge a number of times where we could have gone either way,” he said.
“It’s something we’re working hard to protect consumers in that area and we hope these senators can help.”
Geelong’s Deputy Mayor Bruce Harwood said the future for Geelong and the region was bright despite recent job losses.
“Geelong is an incredibly resilient town,” he said.
Senator John Madigan from Ballarat urged politicians to create certainty for businesses looking to invest in regional Victoria.
“Farmers, manufacturers and food producers don’t want a hand out, they just don’t want to get kicked in the head,” he said.