Manufacturing industry’s hope despite Hazard move

Bass Strait freight costs are not a barrier to success in Tasmania, manufacturer Elphinstone says.

The company’s managing director Kelly Elphinstone said there were companies deciding to move to Tasmania because they saw it as an attractive place to do business. 

Her comments came after emergency vehicle equipment manufacturer Hazard Systems announced it was moving its Launceston manufacturing and warehousing operations to Melbourne. 

Twenty-four jobs will go and the company cited Tasmania’s freight costs as one reason for the decision. 

Hazard Systems managing director Brenton Heath said on Wednesday that if the company achieved its growth target, consolidating manufacturing in Launceston would bring unsustainable freight costs.

Ms Elphinstone said there was a need to support businesses willing to make significant investments in local port infrastructure. 

“Such investment will only increase Tasmanian export opportunities.”

Tasmanian Minerals and Energy Council chief executive Wayne Bould, whose group administers for the Advanced Manufacturing Industry Association, said coastal shipping law reform was one way to lower the state’s freight costs. 

The Advanced Manufacturing Industry Association was building a platform from which Tasmanian businesses could display their manufacturing capacity for potential national and international customers.

In a joint statement, Bass Labor MP Ross Hart and Tasmanian Labor senator Helen Polley said Launceston can be a manufacturing hub. 

“The conditions just need to be created to support such an endeavour. Government must work with business to sustain these Launceston industries.”

Definium Technologies was a strong local manufacturing business supported by government, now looking to create another 15 jobs, Senator Polley said.

Liberal senator David Bushby said the federal government had arranged a specialist Tasmania Employment Facilitator, based in the north of the state, to meet with Hazard Systems employees next week to help them connect with employment and training opportunities. 

State Growth Minister Matthew Groom said business confidence in Tasmania was among the highest in the nation and that the government’s northern economic stimulus was assisting the region’s economy.