Coalition policy ‘not pro-active’

Sophie MirabellaORGANISATIONS representing two of Indi’s biggest industry sectors — manufacturing and food production — are divided over the Coalition’s manufacturing policy.

The policy, announced last week by Indi MP Sophie Mirabella, came just a day before dairy company Murray Goulburn announced 72 job losses and followed the earlier announcement 67 jobs would be cut at Lavington-based DSI Holdings.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union criticised the policy for failing to match support for the car industry but the Australian Food and Grocery Council called it “a positive step to enhance the competitiveness of the domestic food and grocery manufacturing sector”.

The Coalition will establish a $50 million fund to help industries diversify their products and offer a $50 million boost to an export market development program.

Mrs Mirabella said yesterday rural businesses would benefit from stricter anti-dumping measures and refocusing the national food plan on profitability.

A proposed review of competition law would examine the problems and consequences experienced by smaller manufacturers, agricultural and retail operations in rural areas by the Coles and Woolworths duopoly.

While Labor’s $500 million pledge for the auto industry would not be met, extra funding could not be ruled out altogether.

Union national secretary Paul Bastian said the policy focused on jobs already lost in the sector with little detail on how it would save or grow them.

“The Coalition does not seem to understand that if you want to protect manufacturing you need to invest in it — if you ignore it, it will go away forever along with the nearly one million jobs it provides,” he said.

Independent candidate for Indi Cathy McGowan said she supported skills development programs and investment in infrastructure.

“What we really need is a long-term plan for how agriculture and manufacturing are going to work in an increasingly competitive sector,” she said.

Labor candidate Robyn Walsh said it would be a shame to lose specialised workforces such as those at DSI Holdings.

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