Could bike parts create jobs for DSI workers?

Tim Farrah sees the potential for a motorcycle parts manufacturing business in Albury.
Tim Farrah sees the potential for a motorcycle parts manufacturing business in Albury.

INDUSTRY Minister Ian Macfarlane will be presented with a proposal today that could soften the latest blow to the Albury manufacturing industry.

Australian Industry Group regional manager Tim Farrah will meet Mr Macfarlane in Canberra.

The talks were pre- arranged by member for Farrer Sussan Ley before Friday’s announcement that DSI Holdings would close its Lavington factory in October with the loss of 142 jobs.

Mr Farrah will lobby the minister for $450,000 in funding to establish a pilot project where some Albury manufacturers can produce parts for top-of-the-range motorcycles in overseas countries.

Such funding would enable consultants to do market research and develop strategies to help companies transition into the motorcycle parts area.

Mr Farrah said yesterday he would use the DSI setback as part of his pitch for federal funding.

“Australian manufacturers have got to find high-value markets where the customer is willing to pay for really high-quality products,” Mr Farrah said.

He pointed to the market for motorcycle restorers and enthusiasts.

“With a domestic market of only 23 million people in Australia it’s hard to find products where demand generates lots of volume,” he said.

“Even a niche market in the US is a huge market by Australian standards.

“Of course, we would have to win market share from existing manufacturers.”

Mr Farrah said an analysis would cover the US and Europe and include distribution networks.

“It could lead to a much more stable business model for businesses because the customer base is broader,” he said.

“Suddenly you are not as vulnerable to supplying only to original equipment manufacturers like Holden or Ford.”

Ms Ley said today’s talks came at a crucial time.

“I hope we’ll be able to access some local funding under the manufacturing transition grant program which would assist workers after the October closure,” she said.

“Obviously those discussions now take on much more gravity.”