The Council of Textile and Fashion Industries of Australia (TFIA) has listed its priorities in a CULTURAL CHANGE election paper for a returned Rudd Government or a new Abbott government. In doing so, the Council suggests that is time for an open and honest approach to TCF Industry policy with a focus on job creation.
TFIA CEO, Richard Evans, suggests the first question to answer for any elected government is – do we want a strong TCF industry in Australia? The TCF industry needs an answer to this question to provide operational certainty for a very important industry to the social fabric of many Australian communities.
“The Australian textile industry, historically, has been extremely innovative, creating vast opportunities for many Australians, in particular in regional communities,” Evans said. “The first question for both parties to answer is … do they want a TCF industry in Australia?”
“We would like a newly elected government commitment to a White Paper that is strategically planned for the next twenty years and beyond,” Evans said. “We believe government needs to support the TCF industry beyond selective welfare funding and set job creation policy that can promote and grow an industry that has already done the hard yards of restructure and retains 40,000 employed.”
“There are many reasons why we must sustain a TCF industry in Australia; security for one is a major reason which does not receive much recognition in government policy,” Evans said. “We must maintain our supply chains and reduce exposure to the vagaries of decisions made on our behalf in other markets.”
“We are a now new industry and we need a new government dialogue to support growth,” Evans said. “Do our politicians understand TCF industry needs, and more importantly do they care? If they do care, we would like to see an industry strategy developed that reflects our needs for the future.”
The TFIA have identified the following policy points as important in the development of future industry policy;
Government procurement – taxpayers deserve to know their taxes are supporting Australian jobs; we therefore recommend Government is required to procure from Australian manufacturers first, with a first right of refusal to match the value proposition from international suppliers.
Skills development – we would like to see improved strategy in the development of creative design, trade and artisan skills with further innovative education programs to meet the evolving demand of the industry towards digital production.
Regional jobs are at threat – we would like to see a TCF industry strategy that promotes opportunities for enterprises in the TCF industry in regional Australia to retain jobs.
Reduction in Red Tape – the over regulation of the TCF industry, in particular in the labour market, is profoundly burdensome for the predominantly SME industry and must be reviewed to increase productivity.Recognition of the TCF business model in the modern award – the current workplace regime inhibits innovation, growth and relies on confrontationist approaches to sustainability. We would like to see recognition that global brands begin from small enterprises, many from their kitchen tables, and must be nurtured to capture world markets. Under the current industrial relations regime we believe iconic brands that started as home based businesses would not have gained their success.
Trade barriers – we believe Australian TCF businesses have trade barriers placed against them; for instance, what we can import from China cannot be exported back to China if manufactured in Australia, which suggests we are not strong enough in fighting for our industry internationally. We expect greater action from our government to fairly protect our enterprises and jobs in a global market.
Country of Origin and Safety labelling – we believe no one is taking responsibility for the poor labelling and unsafe products imported into Australia. We remain concerned about the carcinogenic poisoning potential and we seek urgent government action in this area of community safety policy.
Industry information and data – for a major industry the government must provide information so strategic decisions can be made. We recommend the ABS return to taking industry statistics and reporting to the sector in a valuable meaningful manner.
TCF Retailers need support – the laws impacting the TCF retailers are significant and require federal government intervention; in particular, state based occupancy laws which need to have an overarching national retail leasing code and greater flexibility within the retail employment market. We are a 24/7 retail consumer market, yet our structures are stuck in five day week, 7 hour day paradigms. This is not the modern consumer world, and we seek government intervention to help our TCF retailers.
The TCF industry requires a strong economy to compete in a global market; and we support the reduction of taxes which will allow us to be globally competitive. The sector is over regulated in the workplace requiring reporting to four regulators, which by any measure is far too much and stifles productivity. The newly elected government must address these problems if they are serious about a sustainable TCF sector.
The TFIA are willing to work with a newly elected government to develop an industry policy White Paper that addresses the immediate and long term strategies that can provide opportunity for our creative and innovative entrepreneurs who want to build the TCF industry in Australia,” Evans said. “Contrary to popular view, this industry is not dead, and we want the government to acknowledge that fact by working towards to creating new opportunities that can lead to increased employment.
“There are plenty of examples in the market of the modern TCF industry in Australia,” Evans said. “I suspect it is time for the government to recognise it can be a sunrise sector for employment and opportunities.”
The Council of Textile and Fashion Industries of Australia (TFIA)
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