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Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Page: 7160

Mr CHEESEMAN (Corangamite) (21:12): The Climate Change, Energy Efficiency, Energy and Innovation portfolio is very important to my constituency and the broader Geelong district. Manufacturing plays an integral role in the Australian community. It employs some one million Australians, often in very high-skilled and high-waged jobs. That is the situation in the broader Geelong region where manufacturing is at the very heart of the economy.

Having said that, there are a number of significant challenges that face manufacturing, including in the Geelong community. The high Australian dollar is a case in point. It is a challenge that my region is responding to, and I know that is the case in many manufacturing parts of the Australian economy. A key part of that response is innovation and productivity. I know the Geelong business community is working on these issues. Manufacturers in the Geelong region are working at ways to ensure that their businesses are making productivity gains and that innovation is right at the heart of their business planning.

Given that we have a price on carbon and many economies are moving to this situation, this is a very important challenge for Australian manufacturers. Indeed, those who enter the race early and face up to those challenges I think will succeed on a global scale. I am sure that is the case. Minister, in your portfolio responsibilities you have the clean energy future package, which is a package designed to assist manufacturers in Australia respond to a price on carbon. I would like to congratulate you for that. Also, of course, we have the Clean Technology Investment Program, which, again, is a critical package and policy suite to assist businesses and manufacturers respond to a price on carbon.

I particularly want to draw attention to the $200 million for food manufacturing. I have a significant food processing sector in my seat. We have got the dairy industry—Bulla cream is an example—and we have got meat processors. Again, I would like to hear from the minister about some of those important challenges. I particularly ask him to inform those present about these particular policies and how he is going about encouraging the manufacturing sector to take up the opportunities under these programs. What benefits might be made available under those programs to manufacturers not only in the Geelong region but indeed across the nation?