Media releases Regional Development Agriculture Infrastructure

O’BRIEN CALLS FOR GREATER GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR POLWARTH EXPORTERS

Nationals Candidate for Polwarth David O’Brien has called for Greater Government support for Victorian Regional Exporters.

He has called on the State Government to respond to and support the recommendations from a parliamentary inquiry into rural exports that completed its report last year.  The Andrews Government is six months overdue in providing its response to the report.

In September 2014 the Rural and Regional Committee of the Victorian Parliament handed down its report on the “Inquiry into the opportunities for increasing exports of goods and services from regional Victoria”. Mr O’Brien as the then Nationals Member for Western Victoria chaired the Committee which had two Nationals MPs, one labor MP and one liberal MP.

The Committee produced a bipartisan report that contained 23 unanimous recommendations designed to assist regional exporters, including those in Polwarth, to effectively compete and grow their businesses.

Key recommendations of the report include:

  • That the Victorian Government partner with the Commonwealth Government in assessing the international competitiveness of the regulation and taxation regime faced by Victorian businesses to identify areas of competitive disadvantage.
  • That the Victorian Government work with the Commonwealth Government to strengthen the competitiveness of exporters based in rural and regional Victoria with regard to: relative tariff and trade barriers; and gaining greater market access to existing and future export markets.
  • That the Victorian Government ensure that regional exporters have adequate access to the Port of Melbourne, including adequate time slots.
  • That the Victorian Government continue to invest in road infrastructure on major transport routes and review regulations in relation to high productivity vehicles.
  • That the Victorian Government investigate opportunities for Victorian businesses to invest in foreign companies, particularly in our target export markets such as China, India, South East Asia, North America and the European Union. These opportunities should be promoted and facilitated through Export Victoria, the Victorian Government Business Offices and similar services.

 “Polwarth exports a wide range of goods and services, including dairy, meat and fibre, tourism, transport and education services. Manufacturing also remains an important component of the regions’ economy, comprising just under one‐quarter of Victoria’s exports,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Growing these regional exports requires identifying and supporting our competitive advantages, reducing our costs of production and increasing efficiencies while seeking greater access to existing and emerging export markets. Victoria’s competitive advantages mean we have a strong economy with a strong export sector and potential for further growth. Much of these advantages are based on our ability to produce high quality products, our natural environment and liveability, and our world‐leading education, manufacturing, medical and scientific sectors.”

The report also found that Victoria’s major competitive disadvantages for exporting include high labour costs, the high Australian dollar, regulations and the comparatively small size of the majority of Victorian regional businesses. However, some of these features are also intrinsic to Victoria’s liveability and standard of living.

“The Andrew’s Government ought to have responded to the report six months ago and I call for them to do so. They have not chosen to stand a candidate in the Polwarth by-election and they are now six months overdue in responding to a bipartisan report containing important recommendations for regional exporters.” 

 Mr O’Brien has called for the Governments response to be provided as a matter of urgency.