The Senate Select Committee on Australia’s Food Processing Sector has heard that Labor policies are undermining the industry during its Shepparton hearing, according to The Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie.
Senator McKenzie has joined the committee on its tour of the Campbell Arnotts and SPC Ardmona factories and participated in hearings over the last two days.
“Food processing is our nation’s biggest manufacturing sector, employing three times more people than car manufacturing and 50 percent of these jobs are based in regional Australia,” said Senator McKenzie.
“Australia’s food processing sector must overcome a number of challenges to remain competitive in a global market including the carbon tax, water and wages, all tied to Federal Government policy.
“Murray Goulburn’s disappointing decision this week to cease milk drying operations at Rochester sends a strong signal to the Gillard Government that its reforms are removing northern Victoria’s competitive advantages.
“Our international competitiveness has already taken a hit due to the high dollar, compounded by Labor’s staggering $133 billion debt and high interest rates.
“Labor’s ill-conceived water policy, in particular its obsession with water buybacks, continues to strip the irrigation district of productive water therefore reducing the productive capacity of local farmland.
“Then there’s the confidence-crushing carbon tax, expected to cost Murray Goulburn a minimum of $10 million annually and the average dairy farmer several thousand dollars each year.”
Senator McKenzie said local food processers and dairy council representatives expressed frustration at the lack of information provided to their industry on the implementation of the carbon tax regime.
The Nationals Senator called on Federal Labor to axe the carbon tax and invest in infrastructure improvements rather than purchasing water.
“The Gillard Government must recognise the destructive nature of its policies and start supporting the food processing sector instead of dragging it down. It must stop the job-killing carbon tax and put forward a basin plan that balances social, economic and environmental needs,” Senator McKenzie said.
The Senate Select Committee will report back to Parliament in June. For information on the committee visit http://www.aph.gov.au/committees