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Priority lacking for fruit industry

The Victorian Government has a ‘buy local’ policy in place for car manufacturers, but not, apparently, for processed Australian fruit.

GEOFF ADAMS December 31, 2013 4:07am

The Victorian Government has a ‘buy local’ policy in place for car manufacturers, but not, apparently, for processed Australian fruit.

Manufacturing Minister David Hodgett said all Victorian Government departments and agencies must buy Australian produced cars.

But when it comes to Australian fruit, there is no compulsion.

Earlier this year, Deputy Premier Peter Ryan wrote to all Victorian ministers, requesting them to encourage all agencies within their portfolio to purchase locally produced food in preference to imported products.

And the government says it has strengthened the Victorian Industry Participation Policy to assist local producers to compete with imports.

However the government program only applies to contracts by departments for more than $1million in rural Victoria or $3million in metropolitan Melbourne.

A Victorian Government spokesperson said the government was committed to increasing local content in its purchasing across all goods and services.

‘‘We are aware of the tough economic conditions that the whole manufacturing sector faces, and the government remains in regular contact with SPC and many other members of the food manufacturing industry.’’

Earlier this month Mr Hodgett criticised the opposition for its approach to support for the Australian car manufacturing industry and said the government had recommended councils introduce similar local production purchasing policies.

SPC Ardmona managing director Peter Kelly has lobbied for federal and state governments to buy Australian processed fruit but without any commitments so far.

Country News put a series of questions about the requested commitments to Mr Hodgett’s office. The questions were:

Given the tough operating climate for Australian food manufacturers, departments such as hospitals should be giving preference to buying Australian-grown products. What is the Manufacturing Minister’s point of view on this?

Is it practical?

Would it be too expensive?

Is there already any existing policy which should be applied?

Would the minister be interested in taking it up with SPCA?

No specific answers were given.

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