South-west export industries good to go

SOUTH-west businesses are optimistic about the future for their export markets, member for Western Victoria David O’Brien says.

Mr O’Brien said a tour of the south-west this week by the State Parliament’s cross-party Rural and Regional Committee, which is inquiring into how to increase exports from regional Victoria, had found many businesses were positive about exports.

The Western Victorian MP said good prices for dairy commodities and better confidence in the blue gum industry were key factors behind the optimistic outlook.

He said the Port of Portland was doubling its export of woodchips. 

Woodchip producers were also heartened by an improvement in their relationship with the operators of blue gum plantations that provided the timber.

While some areas were being returned to grazing following the collapse of the managed investment schemes that funded many regional blue gum plantations, the trees were still being grown in smarter and better ways such as plantings around grazing paddocks. 

Midfield Group senior staff also had no shortage of ideas for the committee when it visited the meat processor yesterday.

Midfield Group general manager Dean McKenna told the committee that reducing the tariffs and duties in overseas countries would be a big help in boosting Victorian exports. Meat exports are a major part of Midfield’s business and Mr McKenna has only recently returned from a trade delegation with federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. 

The committee held a public hearing in Hamilton on Tuesday and this week also had on-site meetings at the Port of Portland, Hamilton minerals processor Iluka Resources, grains storage and exporter Graincorp and Glenelg Shire Council. 

“We wanted to hear from those businesses and government representatives about where there are opportunities to increase exports,” Mr O’Brien said.

The committee is due to deliver its report on September 4.

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