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South East Melbourne Business Innovation Forum in Australia’s Manufacturing Heartland

Posted May 16, 2012

Fifty manufacturers representing businesses across south eastern Melbourne today joined the Federal Minister for Industry and Innovation, Greg Combet, the Federal Member for Isaacs, Mark Dreyfus and the Federal Member for Bruce, Alan Griffin to discuss opportunities to access grants, information and explore partnerships with local research institutions, at Dandenong's Drum Theatre.

Mr Combet, Mr Dreyfus and Mr Griffin answered questions and heard from businesses at the forum hosted by the South East Melbourne Manufacturers Alliance (SEMMA). The discussion covered challenges facing businesses locally and across Australia, as well as support available to manufacturers under the Federal Government's Clean Technology Programs and other initiatives.

Mr Combet said supporting jobs and business to improve their productivity and competitiveness were among the Federal Government's priorities, particularly in uncertain economic times.

"Manufacturers here in Dandenong are facing challenges from a high Australian dollar and records terms of trade, but despite these obstacles many are innovating through sophisticated research and development, some with help from Federal Government grants. Businesses are also realising the productivity gains to be made from upskilling the local workforce," said Mr Combet.

Parliamentary Secretary for Industry and Innovation and Member for Isaacs, Mark Dreyfus, said tough economic times emphasised the need for the Federal Government and manufacturers to work together.

"Manufacturing is a major employer in my electorate and across the south east of Melbourne, supporting just under one in five local jobs. The Federal Government has just delivered a budget surplus in order to keep interest rates in check and provide room for further cuts if the Reserve Bank chooses to do so. We are also investing in the National Broadband Network which will be a major boost for export-oriented manufacturing businesses in this area and for those planning to follow suit."

"AW Bell in Dandenong South is an outstanding example of this, exporting its locally-made parts to US defence and aerospace industries, making the most of assistance from the Federal Government."

Member for Bruce, Mr Griffin, said manufacturing remained a vital part of the Australian economy.  

"Time and time again naysayers have predicted the demise of Australian manufacturing, talking down the economy and the need to support jobs, skills and R&D in our universities. This Government is fully committed to supporting manufacturing businesses and its workers through good times and bad. We don't walk away when the going gets tough, we are in it together for the long haul."

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