ONE of Ballarat’s oldest and best known manufacturers says the industry can’t rely on the government to survive.
Oliver Footwear chief executive Andrew Oliver told
Mr Oliver said the industry should have to stand on its own two feet to endure a tough period for the sector.
“Manufacturing used to employ 20 per cent of Ballarat, now we employ around eight per cent of the city,” he said.
“We survived world wars, the Global Financial Crisis, the Great Depression — we managed through it all.
“I’d hate to see it go.”
Mr Oliver’s comment came after a book launch on the history of his family’s company yesterday.
Mr Oliver said while the federal government played an important part in the industry, it shouldn’t be relied upon as its saviour.
“I don’t think government knows how to handle manufacturing,” he said.
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“And it might be a bit late for them to learn.”
Mr Oliver, the fourth generation of his family to run the company, said the recent decision to merge with Honeywell International was to increase its overseas market.
He said the company now exports to more than 50 different countries but remains a Ballarat manufacturer.
“Manufacturing is my passion — it’s all I’ve ever known,” Mr Oliver said.
“I hope it returns to the state that it used to be.”
Ballarat MP Catherine King said the government was aware of the challenges of the manufacturing sector and was actively working to assist in the short-term and to plan for the future.
“In Ballarat we are investing $18 million in the new Manufacturing Technology Training Centre at the University of Ballarat,” she said.
“Our investment of $58 million in the new Science and Engineering precinct at UB is also an important support for manufacturing,” Ms King said.
“This is in stark contrast to the negativity of the Baillieu government.
“(It is) slashing money from the very training programs which would provide the quality workforce our manufacturing sector demands.”
Mr Oliver’s comments come after MARS Chocolate Australia cut 38 jobs at its Ballarat factory in March, McCain announced cutbacks to potato farmers in May and 21 jobs were lost at SEM Fire and Rescue’s Wendouree manufacturing plant late last year.
Having spent 38 years with his family’s company, Mr Oliver said there had been many obstacles for manufacturers to overcome.
Mr Oliver said Australians are not valuing their home products like they did a decade ago.
“In 2000, the Australian Made campaign was really strong — but now people look for value for money,” he said.
“When surfing the net, if they find something they like they don’t really think about where it comes from.”
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