Speaker – The Honourable Lily D’Ambrosio – Victorian State Minister for Industry and Minister for Energy and Resources.
The Victorian Vernier Society 2016 Speaker Program started its year with a real feather in its cap with a high profile speaker in the Victorian State Labor Government’s Minister for Industry and Minister for Energy and Resources, The Honourable Lily D’Ambrosio. In order to fit with the Minister’s State Parliamentary sitting days, the Vernier Society was all too willing to change its regular date to accommodate the Minister, who was pleasingly able to find time in her busy schedule to speak to the Society, even though the question time on her speech was cut short by an earlier than expected leaving.
On a warm summer’s day, in the pleasant surroundings of Kooyong Tennis Centre and in front of a good gathering of Vernier Society members, swelled by a number of guests, the Minister first recapped her earlier visits to the Centre of social occasions and then gave a comprehensive, scripted talk on the State’s Labor government plans to manage the transition of Victorian manufacturing into a new age. The main points extracted from the Minister’s presentation were:
(note; it was necessary to provide additional materials from the authorised government websites to ensure the notes taken reflect the facts)
- While manufacturing has suffered a decline, it is still the second largest industry sector in the state with over 20,000 businesses, employing a quarter of a million people and contributing $27.5b to Victoria’s growth.
- It is important that the Government understand the changes taking place in the industry and is responsive to the requirement to be a nimbler and advanced manufacturing sector.
- Australia is not a low cost manufacturing country and so the industry and government must approach the challenge in a sophisticated and intelligent way.
- Despite the impending loss of the passenger automotive industries, Victoria still have thriving sectors in heavy vehicle transport, recreational vehicles and defence and a strong manufacturing infrastructure sector supporting the level crossing program.
- Already a number of Victorian companies have taken advantage of Next Generation Manufacturing Investment Program that offers a range of grants available jointly from the Australian Government in conjunction with the Victorian and SA governments.
- The Minister identified local successes in the $135m expansion of Ego Pharmaceuticals to a new building in Dandenong, which is believed will eventually create up to 200 new jobs.
- The new building in Braeside by the Japanese company Rinnai who make next generation water systems that will provide up to 160 new jobs.
- The advanced manufacturing Centre of Innovation in Geelong.
- The Government is creating a strategy for manufacturing involving a number of high productivity sectors with advanced manufacturing covering all sectors.
- With the impending loss of automotive jobs at the end of this year and in 2017 the government is highly focused on creating new opportunities and skills for these redundant workers.
- The State government is working closely with many of the 135 automotive supply companies to diversify into new products, exports and sectors.
- The State government is putting local supply first in its projects – i.e. with local steel in the railway crossing replacement program and mandating major projects to employ young people.
- The government is still developing an ‘Advanced Manufacturing Statement’ which will be released soon.
The Minister’s talk was in general well received and it was unfortunate that the Minister had to leave after just a single question from the audience as Vernier’s learned audience tried to digest the abundance of plans and actions.