Victoria used to be the manufacturing heart of Australia.

We now have the opportunity to bring manufacturing home to Victoria – where it belongs. Over the past 20 years, more than 50,000 jobs have been lost in the local sector.

And now the COVID pandemic has exposed holes in our supply chain, including an over-reliance on other countries for the provision of essential medical supplies, such as personal protective equipment (PPE).

Government has a key role to play in restoring business confidence to invest in regional Victoria, particularly after the economic carnage inflicted by two years of Labor’s lockdowns. The Nationals in government will back the creation of new local jobs with a $1 billion Bringing Manufacturing Home Fund to support manufacturers to relocate or expand their operations – and career opportunities – in Victoria.

It will focus on restoring Victoria’s reputation as a manufacturing powerhouse by prioritising support for industries of national importance, like PPE manufacture, defence procurement and rare earths processing.

Victoria has a real opportunity to create thousands of new jobs and attract millions of dollars of investment, while regenerating our own capability to produce critical supplies that we’ve otherwise lost to overseas.

Rebuilding our local and regional economies will be a vital piece of Victoria’s recovery.

Peter Walsh, Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Regional Victoria.