Local, Independant and Effective

Notice of Motion - Regional Manufacturing, Farming and Food Production

Posted June 22, 2015



CATHY McGOWAN (Indi) (12:52):  I move:

That the House:

(1) notes that:

(a) by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development's own statistics, two thirds of Australia's export earnings come from regional industries such as agriculture, tourism, retail, services and manufacturing;

(b) Australian regional businesses and industries are highly exposed to global market forces;

(c) whether exporting or not, businesses and consumers alike are influenced and are in turn influencing regional Australia's future competitive advantage; and

(d) the future of manufacturing and industry in this country requires extensive skills development, training and employee development in key sectors such as farming, food production, engineering and value-adding; and

(2) calls on the Australian Government to:

(a) prioritise investment in regional infrastructure that supports growth in rural and regional industries and manufacturing businesses, such as:

    (i) improving telecommunications access for rural and regional Australians;

    (ii) improving passenger rail and freight rail timetables and services; and

    (iii) simplifying compliance for interstate businesses by reducing cross-border anomalies; and

(b) provide additional capacity for the regions to design their strategic vision to meet future industry, manufacturing and regional development demands in Australia.

Manufacturing, farming and food production are of major importance to Australia's regional economy. Agriculture in the Hume Murray region, which includes my electorate of Indi, contributes $2.3 billion to the economy. Indi is home to approximately 600 manufacturing businesses that generate turnover of almost $200 million. In 2014, manufacturing and industrial businesses were the major source of employment in Albury-Wodonga. This equates to 20 per cent of employment, and the industry sector accounts for 60 per cent of all business activity. Manufacturing is fundamental to regional Australia. On 29 May this year, Victorian Senator Madigan, Wodonga Institute of TAFE and Wodonga city council hosted the Australian Manufacturing and Farming Program—AMFP—in Wodonga. It was labelled 'Albury Wodonga—Position Perfect', signifying the region's location as a national hub. More than 150 regional businesses representatives attended, and they stressed the need for government to develop a big-picture plan to advance Australian manufacturing industries.

At the forum I heard how farmers, manufacturers and industry are now, more than ever, experiencing the impacts of a global marketplace. The regional business community told me they are concerned about the unintended consequences of trade deals, food labelling and foreign investment, as well as the adverse impact that occurs to their businesses when the goalposts continue to change. They said to me, 'We need consistency of legislation', and they want government to support Australian businesses through procurement.

We know that future industries will require skilled personnel and a specialist approach to meet market needs. This requires government investment in education training and professional development for the next generation of farmers, engineers, business entrepreneurs, teachers and marketers, all of whom have the ideas and innovation to add value to our production. Rural and regional Australian businesses need to be listened to. They need to be involved in decisions and have their input acknowledged and advice considered in all aspects of planning.

An example of government listening and acting positively occurred last week. Biofuel manufacturer, Andrew White, from ARFuels in Barnawartha, Indi, contacted me with concerns about the excise on domestically produced biofuel and fuel ethanol as proposed in the 2014-15 budget. Mr White, together with Gavin Hughes, CEO of Biofuels Association of Australia, came to Canberra and lobbied effectively. To the government and opposition's credit an agreement was reached on legislation that will benefit the whole industry. This type of cooperation brings confidence to the sector and has secured the future of a regional manufacturer and continues the momentum in the growth of biofuels. It works when we work together.

Indi abounds in manufacturing, with clever manufacturers applying cutting-edge science and entrepreneurial skills. Businesses such as Mars Petcare Australia, employs more than 500 people in manufacturing and corporate functions, with an additional 500 jobs created and more than $130 million spent annually with suppliers, Mars Petcare continues to grow and invest in regional Australia. Wilson Transformers in Wodonga produces high quality electricity transformers and employs about 70 people in its Wodonga factory. With a commitment to expertise, technology and safety, and an emphasis on training and education, they have a real competitive edge in the marketplace. Another example is Lucas Mills, in my local community of Wooragee, which employs 35 staff and exports portable timber mills all over the world. These are classic regional manufacturers and they need to be supported.

We know that the government has a commitment to infrastructure. Today I call for a national plan for significant infrastructure to connect rural and regional areas and to prioritise investment in nationally significant infrastructure to support growth in rural and regional manufacturing industries, such as high-speed, reliable internet, high-speed rail, a review of legislation affecting agriculture and manufacturing and cross-border anomalies, and capacity to enable regions to be part of the long-term planning for their future. I am very proud to represent regional Australia and in doing so I am committed to working with my parliamentary colleagues to develop the vision of a strong and prosperous rural and regional Australia alive with opportunities for all. I am very pleased to seek support for this motion. Thank you.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Is there a seconder for the motion?

Sarah Henderson (Corangamite):  Yes, I second the motion.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Does the member wish to speak to the motion?

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