The details of the Goulburn Valley Industry and Employment Fund and Plan announced today by the Victorian Coalition Government highlights the importance of research and innovation, according to Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie.
Senator McKenzie said the Goulburn Valley Industry and Employment Plan and Fruit Growing Industry Roadmap announced by Victorian Deputy Premier and Nationals Leader Peter Ryan and Water Minister Peter Walsh in Shepparton today set the Goulburn Valley on an exciting path to a sustainable future.
One of the functions of the $5 million Fund will be to assist businesses to invest to become more ‘productive, efficient, and competitive’.
Senator McKenzie said that public expenditure on agriculture research and development had grown by 6.5 per cent between 1953 and 1980, but only by 0.6 per cent from 1980 to 2011, despite being identified as critical to the future of the food processing industry.
''In addition to backing the region's existing skill set, the region's soil, sun and irrigation infrastructure, this plan recognises the importance of research and innovation to remaining competitive and continuing growth,'' Senator McKenzie said.
''Through strategic research and development, the food processing sector can take advantage of the food boom in Asia; there are now 300 million increasingly wealthy urban Chinese, a number expected to grow to half a billion over the next 10 years.''
Senator McKenzie said with more than 70,000 Victorians employed in the food and beverage industry, the necessary skills and knowledge needed for development were already available.
The challenges being faced by food processors could be addressed by strengthening the anti-dumping regime, actively pursuing free trade agreements and examining unequal environmental standards applied to food imports, she said.
''The Abbott Truss Government is committed to removing unnecessary red and green tape and cost burdens like the carbon tax to foster business innovation and growth.''
''This week marks six months since Australia voted to get rid of the carbon tax it's time for the ALP to support local jobs and vote for its repeal.''
Media contact: Kathleen Tonini 0400530027