Isaacs Electorate: Manufacturing

It is important to recognise the efforts of manufacturers in my electorate of Isaacs, in the south-east of Melbourne. It is fitting to do so this week, which is National Manufacturing Week. It has become all too common to downplay the important role that manufacturing continues to play in the Australian economy. Manufacturing exports were worth over $87.1 billion last year and the sector was responsible for almost 40 per cent of business expenditure on research and development. A strong manufacturing sector is critical to the current and future prosperity of our nation. All of this is particularly true for the south-east of Melbourne, which is the manufacturing hub of Victoria and a key manufacturing centre for the country.

It is important to recognise the efforts of manufacturers in my electorate of Isaacs, in the south-east of Melbourne. It is fitting to do so this week, which is National Manufacturing Week. It has become all too common to downplay the important role that manufacturing continues to play in the Australian economy. Manufacturing exports were worth over $87.1 billion last year and the sector was responsible for almost 40 per cent of business expenditure on research and development. A strong manufacturing sector is critical to the current and future prosperity of our nation. All of this is particularly true for the south-east of Melbourne, which is the manufacturing hub of Victoria and a key manufacturing centre for the country.

The city of Greater Dandenong and the city of Kingston—substantial parts of both cities are in my electorate—together account for more than one in six manufacturing jobs in Greater Melbourne. Between 2001 and 2006, the number of manufacturing jobs in the city of Greater Dandenong increased by seven per cent. Reflecting the region’s importance to Victorian manufacturing, and Australian manufacturing more generally, six inductees at the Victorian government’s recent Manufacturing Hall of Fame Awards are from south-east Melbourne. One of those inductees is Hilton Manufacturing, which is based in south Dandenong and employs some 190 workers. Hilton is a component manufacturer in the trucking industry and the preferred supplier to Iveco, Mercedes, Kenworth, Volvo, Mack and Western Star. Hilton Manufacturing really is a local success story. It is an example of an export focused company that is building its reputation through constant innovation and strong investment in research and development. Hilton currently exports to Korea, Japan, Sweden and Canada and its exports have increased by a remarkable 250 per cent over the last six years. As proof that the manufacturing sector can adapt to the challenges posed by environmental changes, Hilton Manufacturing is committed to reducing its impact on the environment through energy and water usage policies.

I would also like to congratulate Doug Maxwell on his induction into the Manufacturing Hall of Fame Honour Roll. Doug is the Managing Director of Steele and Lincoln Foundry, which is located in Hammond Road, Dandenong South, in my electorate. It is a firm that he has successfully owned and managed for more than 20 years. In addition to his business success, Doug has contributed significantly to his industry and his community through his involvement in trade, regional and community organisations. He was the founding president of the South East Melbourne Manufacturers Alliance, he is an active member of the Greater Dandenong Chamber of Commerce and he has been instrumental in obtaining government support to promote and develop the Australian foundry industry.

I would like also to congratulate the winner of last night’s Manufacturers’ Monthly Manufacturer of the Year Award, Marand Precision Engineering. Marand is a leading supplier of engineering products to various manufacturing industries including automotive, aerospace, defence, mining, aviation, rail, food processing, white goods and general manufacturing. Although located just beyond the boundaries of my electorate, this award is further proof of the significance of manufacturing to our region and the significance of our region to Australian manufacturing.

Despite these successes, manufacturing in our region continues to face challenges through skills shortages, through lack of access to advice and research and through infrastructure bottlenecks—all part of the legacy of inaction of the previous government. The Rudd government is working to address these issues. Recently the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research announced the selection of Dandenong as the site of one of the manufacturing centres under the new government’s Enterprise Connect network. Through the Dandenong manufacturing centre, local enterprises will be able to get help to become more productive and more competitive, building new markets and boosting their export readiness. In addition, the establishment of Infrastructure Australia and the $20 billion funding for the new Building Australia Fund will allow us to begin the task of investing in critical economic infrastructure that will allow manufacturers in Melbourne’s south-east and throughout Australia to get their goods to market as cheaply and quickly as possible.