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Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Page: 7160

Mr COMBET (CharltonMinister for Industry and Innovation and Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) (21:17): I thank the member for Corangamite for his question. The manufacturing sector is extremely important, as he observed. One million people are employed in manufacturing. It is a very important contributor to our economic activity and it is under pressure from the high value of the dollar and a number of other global factors. In essence, government policy needs to assist the industry to make adjustments to improve productivity, improve efficiency, reduce energy consumption, become more competitive and assist in finding access to global markets. Many government programs are directed towards that aim.

The member for Corangamite referred to an important new program that is operating under the clean energy package, and that is the Clean Technology Investment Program. This is a $1.2 billion program specifically for the manufacturing industry, designed to support, through co-contributions with businesses, investment in energy efficiency and reduced emissions intensity—all measures that will help improve productivity and technological application within the manufacturing sector. Just to put it in some specific circumstances and in particular in relation to the food manufacturing sector that the member for Corangamite asked about, a couple of weeks ago I announced the first round of grants under the Clean Technology Investment Program. It involved a group of organisations that were successful in gaining access to some funding. One of them is Bega Cheese, which received funding for a number of projects including improved fan speeds in coolrooms, improved efficiency of chilled water heat exchangers, improved heat recovery and reuse, and lighting upgrades. The Commonwealth is putting $282,000 towards the achievement of that and Bega Cheese is making a co-contribution. I will be visiting the site shortly to discuss the application of it on site.

Fonterra Foodservices was also successful in gaining a grant for its milk processing facilities in and around Wagga Wagga. Again, this money will be used to assist in the replacement of outdated refrigeration equipment. I visited a very interesting food manufacturing workplace at Emu Plains in Western Sydney, which is receiving a $500,000 grant and the company is making a co-contribution. An older style blast freezer system will be replaced with an industrial spiral freezer system using an ammonia refrigerant. It is going to reduce the emissions intensity of product in that plant by 54 per cent and create the opportunity to boost turnover from $20 million to $50 million because, once meals are produced in the factory, they can be frozen in 1½ hours with the new technology instead of the 10 hours it took previously. This represents a massive increase in productivity and it will increase the number of jobs on site.

DTR Holdings Pty Ltd, which is a food product manufacturing firm in Bundaberg in Queensland will be receiving a grant—again directed towards more efficient operations. It will replace high-pressure processing units with new, more efficient systems. This will boost productivity, boost competitiveness, boost output and improve the viability of that particular business. De Bortoli Wines is—

Mr Cheeseman: Hear, hear!

Mr COMBET: Decisions are made independently, I note for my colleague. De Bortoli Wines will be receiving a significant grant of almost $5 million—and making a significant co-contribution itself of course—for a massive scale energy reduction project across five different winemaking sites in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. The project will reduce energy use across its winemaking, packaging and warehousing operations through using power more efficiently, replacing old equipment and using solar technologies. Rickety Gate Trust, Matilda's Winery and Ferngrove Vineyards are also in the wine industry, part of the food manufacturing industry, and they will also receive grants. There will be further rounds of funding, but all of these things are going to make an enormous contribution to helping the manufacturing sector make the investments that can boost productivity and improve competitiveness. It is one way, in a very practical sense, that we will be able to point to the benefits of carbon pricing—because these investments would not be made without the government introducing the carbon price incentive in the economy.