The Caterpillar Transition Taskforce has taken significant steps to provide support for affected Caterpillar workers, transition the advanced manufacturing industry into new areas of opportunity, and support economic development in Burnie.

We remain steadfast in our commitment to work with the community to support local jobs and keep advanced manufacturing capacity on the Coast, including the allocation of $3 million in the State Budget to fund recommendations of the CAT Transition Taskforce.

The Hodgman Liberal Government, in conjunction with the CAT Transition Taskforce, is today announcing the following measures to support the workers, the industry and the region:

• An Advanced Manufacturing Transition Fund Expression of Interest process offering up to $2 million to encourage private investment and fast-track job-creating projects in the advanced manufacturing sector in the North West;
• As Chair of the Taskforce, I will lead the Trade Mission to Caterpillar’s facility at Rayong, Thailand in October. Top tier suppliers to Caterpillar Burnie and Caterpillar Global will be invited, and discussions with these companies will begin this week; and
• Establishing a Small Business Loan Guarantee scheme valued at $500,000 which will be run by the TDR Board and funded through its existing loan book. It will help small businesses overcome a barrier to investing in their business, creating more local jobs.

Advance Manufacturing Transition Fund Expression of Interest:

The Advanced Manufacturing Transition Fund Expression of Interest program will encourage significant investment and job creation for Tasmania’s North West. Applicants must be manufacturing businesses and have projects that must generate immediate and ongoing economic activity. The projects must generate immediate and ongoing economic activity. The applications will undergo an independent and rigorous assessment. Applications open on July 13, and close on January 29, 2016. Successful EOI applicants will be notified within five working days of approval. Up to $2 million will be provided thought the Transition Taskforce funding. We want to ensure advanced manufacturing has a strong future and continues to support jobs in Burnie and in the North West; the EOI process will help to achieve this.

Trade Mission to Caterpillar facility in Thailand:

I will lead the trade mission to Thailand in October, which will be hosted by Caterpillar Global. Importantly, the Trade Mission will include top tier suppliers to Caterpillar Burnie and Caterpillar Global. The mission is vital to ensuring that our key advanced manufacturing representatives are supported in their engagements with Caterpillar to work towards new opportunities to supply into the company’s global network. The Government will begin discussions with these companies this week.

Small Business Loan Facilitation Scheme:

This pilot-scheme, proposed by Member for Braddon Joan Rylah, will provide a guarantee to successful applicants of up to 20 per cent of the total principal required, capped at $50,000, which potentially will unlock loans of up to $250,000 for individual businesses. With a total portfolio value of $500,000 for a 12-month trial on the North-West and West Coast, the guarantee program could help realise up to $2.5 million in local economic activity. The program will be run by the TDR board and funded through their existing loan book. This means that unless there are loan defaults, the program will come at no cost to the Government.

Today’s announcements are an example of the productive solutions the Transition Taskforce is working towards to support CAT workers and their families, and to ensure the advanced manufacturing sector continues to be a competitive strength.

Earlier this month each CAT employee took part in the first of the CAT Employee Support sessions in Burnie, facilitated by Caterpillar management, Department of State Growth and Australian Department of Employment. These sessions support each individual worker in developing a tailor-made jobs plan to support them in their employment transition, and the Burnie City Council is following up with workers again this week.

These announcements today are in addition to $6,000 the Taskforce previously agreed to provide to the Ulverstone High School Students competing in the F1 in Schools World Finals and encouraging STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) training in schools to assist in career pathways to advanced manufacturing in the region. The international competition will offer an educational experience that no class room can provide.

In total, we have committed up to $2.056 million of the $3 million allocated to the taskforce: up to $2 million for the Advanced Manufacturing Transition Fund Expression of Interest; up to $50,000 for the Trade Mission; $6,000 for the F1 in Schools World Finals.

The Transition Taskforce will consider other ideas and projects as we continue to meet, and we will also monitor the rollout of the support programs over coming months.
Jeremy Rockliff, Deputy Premier