The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union has won the support of major industry bodies after launching a national TV advertising campaign to prevent budget cuts.
The Federal Government recently announced it will cut more than $800 million from car industry assistance programs to pay for infrastructure rebuilding after the Queensland floods, while R&D tax incentives have also been reshaped.
The AMWU campaign, titled Manufacturing our Future, includes opinion polling in marginal seats by Essential Research showing strong support for government assistance for local manufacturing.
The research reveals 63% of respondents believe the position of a local MP on investing in manufacturing will influence voting preference at the next election.
AMWU national secretary Dave Oliver says the union will campaign in key manufacturing areas across Victoria and South Australia to encourage government investment in local industries.
“We’re encouraging all Australians to go online and tell their local MPs that jobs in their communities matter,” Olive says.
“There are over one million people employed in Australian manufacturing… Jobs in new technology areas are important to make sure Australia has a diverse economic base long after the mining boom ends.”
But Innovation Minister Kim Carr has said the manufacturing sector is still being encouraged to transform into a highly innovative industry.
“You have to have a strong emphasis on R&D to encourage new investment in high-end technology,” Carr said.
Meanwhile, Australian Industry Group chief executive Heather Ridout says the AMWU campaign “shines another important light” on the role played by local manufacturers.
“Ai Group has long advocated the need to have in place an effective range of R&D programs, which will provide the framework and incentives necessary to help Australian businesses to successfully compete globally,” Ridout says.
“The maintenance of national investment in this area is crucial in the upcoming budget.”
The Australian Food and Grocery Council has also applauded the campaign, with AFGC chief executive Kate Carnell describing the proposed carbon tax as the “final nail in the coffin” for already embattled manufacturers.
“Industry is under pressure from rising input costs such as energy, wages and water, higher transport costs, record high global commodity prices and supermarkets forcing down retail prices, which is seriously affecting supplier margins,” Carnell says.
“Making matters worse is the high Australian dollar making imports cheaper… If manufacturers can’t remain viable in Australia, there’s a danger they could shutdown or move offshore.”
“This puts serious pressure on many rural communities that rely on the thousands of jobs and flow-on benefits created by food and grocery manufacturers.”