House of Representatives Speech- South East Melbourne Manufacturing Forum

I want to thank representatives of the research, local government and industry sectors for contributing their views at the South East Melbourne Manufacturing Forum in Dandenong on 1 May. My colleagues—Senator Kim Carr; the member for Chisholm, Anna Burke; and the member for Hotham, Clare O'Neil—and I hosted the forum at the city of Greater Dandenong's new civic chambers to respond to local concerns about the impact of the closure of the Australian car industry on manufacturers across south-east Melbourne. Unlike the government, which has no plan and no ideas for the manufacturing sector, Labor cares and Labor is listening.

  I want to thank representatives of the research, local government and industry sectors for contributing their views at the South East Melbourne Manufacturing Forum in Dandenong on 1 May. My colleagues—Senator Kim Carr; the member for Chisholm, Anna Burke; and the member for Hotham, Clare O'Neil—and I hosted the forum at the city of Greater Dandenong's new civic chambers to respond to local concerns about the impact of the closure of the Australian car industry on manufacturers across south-east Melbourne. Unlike the government, which has no plan and no ideas for the manufacturing sector, Labor cares and Labor is listening.

The Australian manufacturing sector contributes $100 billion to Australia's GDP and employs around 950,000 Australians. South-east Melbourne manufacturers produce nearly half of Victoria's manufacturing output. In the city of Greater Dandenong 22,800 people are employed in manufacturing industries and it is estimated that the automotive industry injected $2.5 billion into the local economy. Manufacturing is a vital part of our community and deserves our support.

The forum commenced with a roundtable discussion between senior representatives from Greater Dandenong, Kingston, Frankston and Monash city councils, representatives of Monash University, the CSIRO, Manufacturing Excellence Taskforce Australia—META, the Australian Industry Group, the South East Melbourne Manufacturers Alliance and Senator Carr, the shadow minister for higher education, research, innovation and industry. The roundtable session was followed by a Q&A forum, where Albert Goller, Chair of META; Professor Xinhua Wu, Director of the Monash Centre for Additive Manufacturing; Mr Tim Piper, Director of the Australian Industry Group, Victoria; Mr Simon Whiteley, President of the South East Melbourne Manufacturers Alliance; and Senator Carr answered questions from more than 80 representatives of manufacturing enterprises based in south-east Melbourne.

Panellists agreed that government must play a role in encouraging business to invest in research and collaborate in building a competitive advantage through innovation. The Abbott government is to be condemned for its cuts of more than $900 million from automotive assistance in last night's budget. This government has slashed programs designed to help create new jobs and assist companies in the automotive supply chain.

Having goaded the Australian car manufacturers into shutting down their operations, the government has now added insult to injury by cutting short or slashing programs designed to help create new jobs and assist companies in the automotive supply chain. The government's paltry $100 million for the so-called Growth Fund and an extra $50 million for the Manufacturing Transition Grants Program does not offset the hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars slashed from auto assistance.

Thank you to all who participated in the south-east Melbourne manufacturing forum and, in particular, my special thanks go to John Bennie, CEO of Greater Dandenong City Council, and his staff, for hosting the event.