THE Gillard government’s industry and innovation plan would help boost manufacturing and jobs in the region, Ballarat MP Catherine King said yesterday.
Amid criticism that the package announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Sunday represents cuts of around half a billion dollars from industry, Ms King said innovation by local businesses would be supported.
“It focuses on the core issues we face as an economy, especially during the transition from a heavy reliance on manufacturing to growing small and medium enterprises which are suited to economies like Ballarat,” Ms King said.
She said the package would support Australian companies to win more work in the domestic economy, a move welcomed by industry and trade unions yesterday.
Funding for the package will come, in part, from restrictions to research and development tax incentives previously enjoyed by companies, including many in the resources sector.
Business groups, including the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the plan was focused on trade union concerns, while Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox called for more detail.
“Denying access to the research and development tax incentive for such businesses may run counter to some of the objectives behind the industry and innovation statement,” he said.
Liberal candidate for Ballarat John Fitzgibbon said the government was trying to “rebadge old policy which it has failed to deliver in the past.
“They made strong job promises in 2010, in 2011 and in 2012 and have failed to deliver those,” he said.
“Across the nation, 109,000 job losses have come in the manufacturing sector, and I fail to see what is going to be beneficial with this latest package.”