Nats call for massive boost to Victorian manufacturing

A new $1 billion Bringing Manufacturing Home fund would put Gippsland in the box seat to seize on new opportunities to bring manufacturing investment and jobs to the region.

As COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease, now is the time for the Andrews Labor Government to urgently act to get Victorians back to work and back in business.

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath called on the government to establish the fund, which would support new manufacturing businesses to move out to regional communities, grow existing local manufacturing and boost innovation.

“The impact of coronavirus on our supply chains should be the wakeup call governments need to give more support to manufacturing in regional Victoria,” Ms Bath said.

“The Gippsland region has the capacity to expand manufacturing operations.  With a skilled industrial and professional workforce and space to expand, reinvigorating manufacturing in Gippsland makes sense.

“Not only are local manufacturers like Safetech in Moe providing local jobs, but they are also critical in supplying the goods that Australians need.

“Victoria and in particular the Latrobe Valley & Gippsland used to be the manufacturing heart of Australia. We now have the opportunity to bring manufacturing home to Victoria – where it belongs.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us Australia needs to again be less dependent on imported goods, both as consumers and for components in locally manufactured products.

“Gippsland has a skilled workforce, space and resources, what it needs is a State Government that will seriously invest in and develop our regional capabilities.”

Over the past 20 years more than 50,000 Victorian manufacturing jobs have been lost. A COVID-19 response is urgently needed to create jobs.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed holes in the national supply chain with an overreliance on a number of countries for provision of essential supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE).

Leader of the Nationals Peter Walsh said it would prioritise support for industries of national importance such as PPE manufacture, defence procurement and rare earths processing.

“COVID-19 has also exposed massive shortcomings in our local economy, particularly in our lack of local manufacturing capacity,” Mr Walsh said.

“Victorians need jobs off the back of the pandemic, and investment support should not be delayed for multiple years because the government places restrictions on how quickly the fund can be rolled out.”

The Bringing Manufacturing Home Fund adds to a number of polices announced by The Nationals to help Victoria recover from the economic fallout of COVID-19, including a $200 million Regional Tourism Fund and payroll tax relief.