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Tuesday, 5 February 2013
Page: 110

Mr SYMON (Deakin) (21:44): Last Friday, 1 February, I visited a local business called the Pastry Lounge, in the suburb of Mitcham, which is part of my electorate of Deakin and is the suburb where my electorate office is. Accompanying me was the now former Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, the Hon. Mark Dreyfus QC, who has of course since been promoted to the position of Attorney-General, in which I am sure he will excel.

The Pastry Lounge has received a grant of $56,200 from the Clean Technology Food and Foundries Investment Program to install a 54-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system. If you think about the size of that and you know a little bit about solar PV, you might say that is rather large, because a usual household system is around 1.5 kilowatts. So it is a large number of panels. But fortunately the Pastry Lounge is now a large and growing business, so it has plenty of space for it. The company is matching the grant of $56,200 with its own money, for a total investment of just over $122,000. When complete, the solar installation will reduce the Pastry Lounge's electricity bills by around $22,000 per year and, importantly, it will also reduce the site's carbon emissions intensity by around 35 per cent. The site has a large freezing capacity as part of what the company does there, and it is growing and has continued to grow for many years, so I am sure the savings will continue and be a very significant part of the business for a long time to come. In under three years, the investment that the company has put in will have actually paid itself back and, even better, will have helped reduce Australia's carbon emissions in that time.

The parliamentary secretary and I met with the owner and director, Fiona Richardson, a local resident who has built the business from scratch, starting it in the kitchen of her own house back in 2001. Her operation has now grown to occupy a 450-square-metre purpose-built commercial kitchen. The Pastry Lounge is a wholesale supplier of boutique finger food which supplies high-end caterers, events and corporate boardrooms in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Canberra with a great range of high-quality canapes and pastry based products. It produces a range of products such as pasties, gourmet pies, sausage rolls and tarts that are handmade and then blast frozen for delivery. After watching the cooking and the handmade production lines, I was fortunate enough to be offered a few samples by Fiona and her friendly staff, and I will definitely be looking for their products at my local weekend farmers' market, as their products are quite simply delicious. The Pastry Lounge, branded as the Tart Box, also sells retail product at 18 farmers' markets across Melbourne every month and is an accredited member of the Victorian Farmers' Markets Association. As many people who live in Melbourne know, a local farmers' market is always a great place to pick up some real fresh produce and purchase some great-tasting delicacies and treats.

The Pastry Lounge now employs around 20 local people and promotes family-friendly hours and flexible employment arrangements that are designed to help parents with children who are at school. As many of us in this place would know, a lot of our constituents struggle with the balance of work, life and family, and it can be particularly hard for a family that has one or two wage earners to find hours that fit around the times that we need to get children from place to place. So a business like that in my local area that is family friendly is a really great example, and I hope that we see many more of those in the future. A business like that is particularly attractive for women seeking to re-enter the workforce after having children, and as a result the business has a very low turnover of staff. As I said when I went there, I could see why—simply because they changed hours to suit what the people that worked there needed, and the hours were not necessarily set.

AusIndustry helped organise the grant application and will be involved in the management of the project. The $200 million Clean Technology Food and Foundries Investment Program runs through to 2016-17, alongside the $800 million Clean Technology Investment Program. Both are part of the $1.2 billion Clean Technology Program, which is an initiative under the Gillard Labor government's clean energy future plan. Businesses can apply for funds for projects that will maintain or improve the competitiveness of their operations. I would encourage any local business in Deakin to contact AusIndustry, on 132846, to find out how they too can benefit from the Clean Technology and Foundries Investment Program.