SGMC meets with new Industry Minister

Members of the SGMC and AMWU Victorian State Secretary, Steve Dargavel recently presented the new Industry Minister, Senator Kim Carr, with a comprehensive list of Geelong manufacturing concerns.

Senator Carr commended the establishment of the SGMC and also shares the same vision: -

“ Restoring major manufacturing industry back into the Geelong region ”

Whilst conceding there is no magic wand, Senator Carr believes that innovation is a key driver to revitalizing manufacturing at the grass roots level. He said that one step in the right direction will be the establishment of an Innovative Regions Centre at Geelong’s Deakin University.

In what has been an extremely busy period, the SGMC lodged a submission with the auto industry review committee and also recently met with the State Minister for Rural and Regional Development, Skills and
Workforce Participation – Jacinta Allen.

Workers Form Lobby Committee

SGMC Meets with Local Labor Candidate & State Member for Lara
Jeff Whalley - Geelong Advertiser

A GRASSROOTS group of Geelong workers has formed a committee to get better assistance to the manufacturing sector in the city.

The Save Geelong Manufacturing Committee is pushing for an increase from $15 million to $100 million from the Commonwealth to help industry revive itself.

The group is also pushing for Labor to commit to ploughing some of its $2 billion green car plan into the city.

The group met Labor Corio candidate Richard Marles and state Lara MP John Eren last week.
Group chairman Michael Stirling said the group was also putting its concerns to Labor.
``Manufacturing workers in Geelong and Australia are losing their jobs at an alarming rate, largely due to lack of federal government policy and direction,'' he said. ``What would a Labor government do to support and revitalise manufacturing in the Geelong region?''

Mr Marles said he supported the group's ambition of keeping manufacturing alive.
``The newly-formed Save Geelong Manufacturing Committee is working to ensure there is a future for manufacturing here in Geelong,'' he said. ``One of my priorities as the Labor candidate for Corio in the coming election is to put manufacturing back on the political agenda.''

Mr Marles said Labor had a three-point plan for the region. He said this included having a body of business leaders, union leaders, government and community leaders that can survey the employment landscape and develop new opportunities.

Mr Marles said Geelong also needed to become a national transport hub and focus on its education.

Additional Government Support and Policy Change Needed

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT has contributed $15 million to the ‘Geelong Innovation and Investment Fund’, created to provide redundant workers future opportunities in employment. But, is a fund of $24 million in total and a maximum allowable grant of $5 million per proposal, sufficient to attract any new major manufacturing investment into the region?

Why is there no worker representation on the committee that oversees the allocation of grants? What checks and balances are in place to ensure the fund actually delivers on its objective?

A comparable fund of $45 million in Adelaide as reported in the Geelong Advertiser (16/8/07) failed miserably: -

'A TOP South Australian unionist has warned Geelong not to squander a $24 million industry recovery fund. He said a similar South Australian fund flopped…………..……Australian Metal Workers Union (AMWU) South Australian secretary John Camillo said yesterday the comparable fund in his state created the wrong jobs in the wrong industries. He said that two years after the fund was set up, almost 50 per cent of former employees were in casual work and nearly 30 per cent unemployed.'

Surely Geelong Deserves Better!


1. The Geelong Innovation and Investment Fund (GIIF) needs to be upgraded to a meaningful $100 million and there needs to be worker representation on the GIIF Committee. After all, the fund’s main objective is to provide redundant Geelong workers with future opportunities in employment.

2. Additional government funding should be immediately allocated for worker re-training.

3. Government funding is required to facilitate a study on the impact of retrenchment on affected workers, their families and the community.

4. An independent study needs to be funded by the state and federal governments to examine future manufacturing opportunities for Geelong. This study also needs to map the region’s current workers’ skills and formulate a process for any transitional training requirements of any new/incoming industries.

5. Geelong needs to be a priority focus of any future government procurement contracts, including Defence Material Organisation (DMO).

6. Geelong should share in Labor’s green car innovation fund. Geelong’s history and current workforce make it possible for Australia to design, develop, manufacture and export green car technologies/components.

7. An immediate freeze on tariffs is needed and no further Free Trade Agreements, unless they also deliver benefit to manufacturing workers.

Turbulant times in Geelong’s manufactuing sector

2007 was a turbulent year in the Geelong manufacturing industry with a number of companies announcing significant redundancies and in some instances closing altogether.

Alcoa Rolled Products, Bekaert Australia, Goodman Fielder, Geelong Leather, Hendersons Automotive, Coghlan & Russell and Ford Geelong are all recent examples of major job losses across our region.

This year has not had a positive start with the demise of another local manufacturing icon - Brintons Carpets and Ford announcing their intentions to cut further jobs at its Geelong Stamping Plant.

Free trade agreements, drastic tariff reductions, previous federal government neglect and a rising Australian dollar, have all conspired to the detriment of Geelong’s manufacturing industry and its workers.
Various economic studies demonstrate that when job losses of this nature occur, there is also a substantial flow on effect to other workers and economic sectors. For example, some economists have cited studies that show up to 7 jobs in total depend on every core job in an automotive manufacturing plant.

The Geelong automotive industry alone employs almost 3,000 people and injects over $200 million in wages annually into the local community.

It has been estimated that manufacturing currently represents 42% of employment in the Geelong region and accounts for 50% of regional income.

Manufacturing provides decent jobs for many local workers and their families in areas including apprenticeships, trade, engineering, research/development and other highly skilled vocations.