Budget cut puts textile jobs, skills at risk

The Abbott Government’s budget cuts are threatening the survival of innovative Australian firms and the livelihoods of their workers.

A bill introduced into Parliament last week closes the Clothing and Household Textile Building Innovative Capability Scheme (BIC) Scheme and the Textiles, Clothing and Footwear Small Business program on 30 June – a year early.

“This is an attack not just on small business but on workers’ jobs,” Shadow Industry and Innovation Minister Kim Carr said.

“Put together with their attacks on ethical clothing measures and their attacks on the structural adjustment programs, this is a government that once again demonstrates its callous disregard for the welfare of some of our most vulnerable workers.

“This is a government that doesn’t appreciate how important ethical manufacturing is for the fashion industries in Australia.”

Senator Carr said that the Textile, Clothing and Footwear sector employed 40,000 people and was a powerhouse of Australia’s design talent.

“While the cuts to this program – $25 million – are really very modest compared with some other measures in the Abbott Government’s budget of broken promises, the premature closure of these schemes puts all that at risk.”

The $22.5 million BIC scheme provides grants to support innovation by firms in an internationally competitive market. The grants are awarded retrospectively – they are based on investment decisions the firms have already made to improve their operations.

“Australia's future beyond the resources boom will depend on the development of advanced manufacturing,” Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Manufacturing Tony Zappia said.

“That means high-tech, knowledge-based industries producing goods for niche markets. The firms receiving these grants fit exactly that description.”

Senator Carr said that the WA Liberal Member for Swan had claimed in Parliament that no stakeholders had complained to Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane about the closure.

“But the Council of the Textile and Fashion Industries of Australia, the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union and several individual firms have all declared their strong objections,” Senator Carr said.

“That the Member for Swan could have said such a thing demonstrates the Government’s woeful ignorance of the TCF industry.”


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