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With suggestions of a recession, the Australian Chamber of Manufactures has called upon governments to implement an emergency plan to restore business confidence

PETER THOMPSON: The Australian Chamber of Manufactures believes that Australia, and particularly Victoria, are in a deep recession which could last for another two years. The Chamber's Victorian Chief Executive, Ken Crompton, has called on the State and Federal governments to implement an emergency plan to restore business confidence. The plan includes the immediate lowering of interest rates, government taxes and charges, and commitments to positive manufacturing strategies. Ken Crompton told Libby Price that the worst hit sectors include motor vehicles, metal tools, furniture, and the clothing and footwear industries.

KEN CROMPTON: Well, we're seeing reports coming in from our membership showing that they are working three and four day weeks. There is job shedding, there is business closures, and, more particularly of alarming concern, there are closures and job shedding in the metals and engineering industry in key sectors which are underpinning other industries.

LIBBY PRICE: You say some of the worst hit sectors include motor vehicles, clothing and footwear industries, and yet, these are some of the most protected industries. Surely you can't ask for even more from the Government for those industries.

KEN CROMPTON: What we're asking for is both the Federal and State governments to come forward with positive manufacturing strategies. We've been asking this for well over 12 months. We need a comprehensive manufacturing strategy in this nation in order to restore manufacturing industry to a proper balance in the economy.

LIBBY PRICE: But if these highly protected industries still continue to struggle, perhaps it's better they don't survive.

KEN CROMPTON: They're not struggling because of the general conditions under which they operate. They are struggling because of high government taxes and charges and the high interest rates. They are not all highly protected industries. In fact, it's a misconception that we have, here, in Australia. There is a conception that we've got to have level playing fields. There's no such thing as a level playing field, and the playing field upon which we operate has other ups and downs in it.

LIBBY PRICE: And how long you anticipate that we'll be in this recession?

KEN CROMPTON: Well, most companies can't see any light at the end of the tunnel for at least six to nine months, and there is even talk that we might be in this situation for up to two years.

PETER THOMPSON: Ken Crompton of the Australian Manufactures in Victoria.