Melbourne’s southeast one of Australia’s largest manufacturing regions, with 5000 businesses

917515b0019316a4c11006f27fa26119Gerry Ryan - Jayco

MELBOURNE’S southeast is poised to become the heart of Australian manufacturing. But it must convince the state and federal governments of its capacity to deliver and get their support for essential infrastructure.

Committee for Dandenong chairman Gary Castricum says the region is already home to more than one million people, has 5000 enterprises and produces 90,000 jobs and excellent growth prospects.

“But it can achieve so much more with faster development of the Dandenong South inland port, a major airport in Casey-Cardinia and a wider upgrade of the region’s major connector road system,” Mr Castricum said.

“All that is required to give the inland port a major boost is a short spur from the Cranbourne rail line.

“The rest of the line back to the Port of Melbourne already has the capacity to carry all of the containers now clogging the Monash Freeway.”

He said industry had already shown its confidence in the 130ha intermodal port, at Saltia’s industrial estate.

“Bunnings has developed a 45,000sq m warehouse there. That’s a building four times the size of the MCG. Imagine what would follow and the savings there would be for all manufacturers and distributors across the southeast if they could rail all of their container freight through this port.”

Mr Castricum said he believed governments historically grossly underestimated the southeast’s capacity to produce more and better.

“Melbourne, for example, has one of the largest tram networks in the world. The southeast has world-class train, tram and bus building capacity,” he said. “It could be made much bigger if government could help it get a steady stream of orders and remove the uncertainty of expansion.”

On roads, he said government money spent on projects like the upgrade of Thompsons Rd would be repaid many times over in earnings.

“Imagine the difference if these major connector roads linking manufacturing areas could efficiently move containers to Dandenong for overnight rail movement to Melbourne and beyond. And it would take thousands of heavy trucks off the Monash every day,” he said.

Mr Castricum said longer term the southeast had to continue its fight for development of the Port of Hastings and establishment of its own airport.

“More than one third of the containers coming into the Port of Melbourne from interstate and overseas are bound for the southeast. One million people live here and the population is growing. The need for both projects is painfully obvious,” he said.

Industry will show off its ambitions for the region with a Smart Manufacturing show in Lonsdale St, Dandenong on May 17.

DID YOU KNOW

- The southeast manufacturing zone includes Greater Dandenong, Casey, Cardinia, Frankston, Kingston, Knox and Monash

- It is one of Australia’s largest manufacturing regions and the second largest employer of manufacturing jobs in Australia

- It has more than 5000 manufacturing businesses and about 90,000 manufacturing jobs

- More than half the state’s manufactured product is made in the southeast, equivalent to $8.74 billion in GRP

- There are more than 300 exporters in the zone

This article first appeared in the Herald Sun newspaper.