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Monday, 9 February 2015
Page: 281


(Question No. 611)

Mr Kelvin Thomson asked the Minister for Industry and Science, in writing, on 14 November 2014:

(1) Is the Minister aware of the statement made by Sir Robert Menzies on 2 October 1964 at the opening of the Chrysler Manufacturing Centre in Tonsley Park, South Australia, where he said that the manufacturing industry, providing large scale employment, has enabled migration programs to continue, and in turn, given confidence to other industries that benefit from the higher demand for goods and services resulting from annual population increases.

(2) Will the Minister consider developing a coordinated strategy (a) to ensure Australia's migration program, particularly the Skilled Migration program, does not reduce the opportunities for Australians to find work in this tough job market, and (b) that helps to regenerate manufacturing and industry in Australia, particularly in Melbourne's Northern Suburbs, in order to reduce local unemployment and improve social cohesion.

Mr Ian Macfarlane: The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) The Government is aware of the references made in the speech by Sir Robert Menzies.

(2) (a) This is not a matter for the Minister for Industry and Science.

(b) The Government has programmes in place to support Australia's manufacturing industry, including those in Melbourne's northern suburbs. These initiatives include the Entrepreneurs Infrastructure Programme, Industry Growth Centres, Industry Skills Fund, Manufacturing Transition Programme and the Growth Fund. These initiatives will assist workers and communities through opportunities arising from new investments.

Of particular note is the $24.5 million Melbourne's North Innovation and Investment Fund (the Fund), which has the objective of supporting sustainable investment by business, including manufacturing firms, leading directly to new sustainable jobs in Melbourne's North and to assist the region to diversify its economic base.

The Fund is a product of a partnership between the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments and the private sector to help Melbourne's north to secure a strong manufacturing presence.

As at the end of November 2014, 15 grants worth $17.6 million have been allocated under the Fund. They have leveraged $91.8 million in private sector investment and are expected to create more than 421 new full-time equivalent jobs.