• Loddon Herald

Push for regional manufacturing

There’s a renewed push to capture new opportunities in manufacturing and drive alternative career paths in regional Victoria as part of Australian Made Week this week.

Victoria was once a powerhouse in Australian manufacturing, but shortages of agriculture chemicals, machinery parts and PPE through the pandemic are driving home the desperate need to reduce Victoria’s reliance on the global supply chain.

Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh said regional Victoria was in prime position to host new and expanded manufacturers, but that government support will be crucial to kickstarting the revival.

In a statement today, Mr Walsh said

“Disruptions to the global supply chain in the pandemic have driven shortages and price rises in goods that are crucial to the daily operation of our hospitals, farm businesses and manufacturers,” Mr Walsh said.

“While Labor has been cutting spending for trade and global engagement, jobs in Victorian manufacturing are plummeting.

“Three decades ago, manufacturing employment accounted for about 17.2 per cent of our state’s jobs market. By the end of August 2021, that had sunk to 8.4 per cent.

“A shift in focus to bring manufacturing home is needed to reduce our reliance on other countries for daily essentials, while also creating new career paths for local people.”

Australian Made Week (June 6 - 12) is a reminder to support local growers and makers. It's even more important here in Victoria – the state hit by the nation's longest lockdowns.

Many small businesses are still reporting they are struggling to recover and rebuild – both financially and in terms of staffing.

Mr Walsh said government could play a leading role in creating more opportunities to buy ‘Australian Made’.

“Our vision is for Victoria to once again be the engine room of Australian manufacturing,” Mr Walsh said.

“A Liberals and Nationals state government elected in November will establish the $2.5 billion Bringing Manufacturing Home Fund, with $1 billion specifically quarantined for regional Victoria.

“It’ll focus on areas of strategic importance, including food, fibre and beverages, rare earth and mineral processing, and medicines or PPE to ensure Victoria continues to recover and rebuild from the devastation caused in the pandemic.”

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