MEMBER for Northern Victoria, Wendy Lovell PICTURED has said today that the State Liberal-National Coalition is proposing a $1billion ‘Bringing Manufacturing Home’ Fund (BMHF) to encourage businesses to bring facilities and jobs back to Victoria, grow local manufacturing and boost innovation.

“With Victoria losing more jobs than any other state due to the pandemic, we need an urgent and bold plan to turn this around,” Ms Lovell said.

“Victoria used to be the manufacturing heart of Australia. We now have the opportunity to bring manufacturing home to Victoria – where it belongs.”

In a statement released from Ms Lovell’s office today, the Coalition said that over the past 20 years, more than 50,000 Victorian manufacturing jobs have been lost.

They are calling for a COVID-19 response which they say is urgently needed to create jobs and boost the economy.

“With COVID-19 restrictions easing, now is the time for the Andrews Labor Government to urgently act to get Victorians back to work and back in business,” the statement read.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed holes in the national supply chain with an over-reliance on a number of countries for provision of essential supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE).” The BMHF would prioritise support for industries of national importance such as PPE manufacture, defence procurement and rare earths processing.”

Ms Lovell said “Victoria has a real opportunity to create thousands of new jobs, attract millions-of-dollars of investment, while regenerating our own capability to produce critical supplies that we’ve otherwise lost to overseas – communities throughout the Mildura electorate could really benefit from this.”

“Rebuilding local economies is a vital piece of Victoria’s recovery and a boost to manufacturing in a region like ours could be a real boost for local jobs. Victorians now need a government focused on delivering a jobs-led and business-led recovery,” she added.

The Coalition said that the proposed Fund would provide support for businesses seeking to relocate manufacturing facilities and jobs back to Victoria and would also support existing Victorian manufacturers to expand, as well as supporting innovation, research and development.

The call for the BMHF adds to a number of polices announced by the Coalition to get Victoria back to work and back in business following the economic fallout of COVID-19.

They have also called for a dedicated $200million Regional Tourism Fund to be immediately established by the Andrews Labor Government to support our country communities and bring visitors back to regional Victoria and for the immediate implementation of temporary payroll tax relief.

The call would see the Government waive payroll tax for all businesses across northern Victoria on the first $10million of annual payroll to June 30, 2021, helping kick start the local economy.