Written by SEMMA CEO Vonda Fenwick
On Friday 3rd April, SEMMA met with Minister Martin Pakula (Minister for Jobs, Innovation and Trade), Gabrielle Williams (Minister for Women, Prevention of Family Violence, Aboriginal Affairs and a long-time supporter and advocate for SEMMA) and several other local MP’s including Pauline Richards (MP for Cranbourne), Gary Maas (MP for Narre Warren South) and Tien Kieu (MP for South East Metropolitan), Jordan Crugnale (MP for Bass), Paul Edbrooke (MP for Frankston), Steve Dimopoulos (MP for Oakleigh and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer). Other participants included Angela Krepcik, the Regional Director of the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, and Senior Advisor to Minister Pakula, Mounir Kiwan.
We were able to feed back the results of our survey (Impacts on Supply Chain; Revenue Loss; Increased Costs; Staff Reductions: Loss of orders/sales; preferred Government assistance).
The points we made clear to the government representatives included: –
- 70% of our members have already been hit by reduced revenue – an additional 11% expect that hit to come in coming weeks. A total of 81% of respondents.
- 49% had already had to act on reducing headcount/reducing number of workdays and another 18% expected to have to take similar action in coming weeks.
- It is critical that Manufacturing is not shutdown. Martin Pakula responded that it will be another 4 to 8 weeks before governments are going to know how well current restrictions are working. He qualified this by saying that the COVID 19 situation is unpredictable however in his view the continuation of manufacturing is essential and the Government does not want to see catastrophic numbers of people out of work. He envisaged a continuation of manufacturing and it is not so much a question of identifying essential activities but shutting down non-essential ones (gyms, casinos etc).
We stressed that while the critical work to obtain life-saving medical equipment and supplies is understandably the current priority that work needs to be initiated now and policy amended to ensure manufacturing is not only preserved but strengthened in order to guarantee national security. In this area we proposed: –
- That the Government direct the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions to initiate a major project of import replacement – not just for medical supplies but across the board.
- Change rules around local content, increasing percentages wherever possible. Major projects to use 100% Australian steel.
- Extend the reach of local content requirements by directing the 300 government agencies to not only observe the VIPP in respect to their purchasing and purchasing panels but to ensure that there are local content requirements for minor projects e.g. jobs of 250K – $1 M.
- Ensure that major projects are not “put on the back burner” e.g. trams and rail projects to proceed.
- The importance of a robust supply chain and the importance of support for and acknowledgement of SME’s of all sizes in those supply chains.
- We raised several other issues including accessibility and transparency at early stages of projects and issues in the ICN process. Minister Pakula has agreed to meet again with SEMMA and Gabrielle Williams to pursue this.
- We have undertaken to present information to Ministers on other matters impacting members including Land Tax and apprenticeships.
We will be continuing to actively pursue these matters with Government representatives on your behalf.