The AMWU has welcomed an election proposal for a $54 million federal program to grow jobs by injecting essential investment into Australia’s food and advanced materials' manufacturing.
The Labor Opposition has outlined its solution to the problem small and medium sized food manufacturers face in securing investment finance from the big banks to modernise their operations.
AMWU National Food and Confectionary Secretary Tom Hale said if firms were to achieve the efficiencies to improve productivity and expand, they needed to spend on new technologies, including energy-efficient capital equipment.
One way to “kickstart” this were Food, Fibre and Advanced Materials Modernisation Grants, where a Federal Labor Government would match investments by manufacturers which withstood scrutiny of their business case.
The policy was launched in Bendigo in Victoria by Labor’s Industry spokesman Senator Kim Carr.
Mr Hale said it would particularly benefit small to medium sized firms in regional areas, where 40 per cent of jobs are linked to food manufacturing.
“Extra re-investment on modernising the operations of manufacturing firms flows through to regional communities, it provides jobs for our members and creates more spending power,” he said.
There are about 10,000 businesses across Australia involved in food and beverage processing, making up about a third of all manufacturing, according to industry research.
Mr Hale linked the difficulty for small to medium manufacturers in gaining finance to upgrade their operations with their over-dependence on selling to the supermarket duopoly.
“The market in Australia is immature, so much is concentrated on selling to the duopoly that small manufacturers’ security can be questionable because their products could be pulled off the shelves by the supermarkets.
“The banks won’t loan on what they believe is a risk, so there has to be a role for Government in supporting and helping encourage smaller manufacturers to invest and grow.
“That way they can seek export markets, particularly the desire for clean and green Australian produce for the growing Asian middle class.”