Calls for industries to be essential services

MP call aims to avoid shutdowns and ensure transportation of goods

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Call: South West Coast MP Roma Britnell has requested the dairy and meat industries be classed as essential services.

Call: South West Coast MP Roma Britnell has requested the dairy and meat industries be classed as essential services.

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MP call aims to avoid shutdowns and ensure transportation of goods.

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The state government has been called on to declare dairy and meat industries as essential services to avoid shutdowns in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Member for Victoria's South West Coast Roma Britnell has written to Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes asking her to provide surety to food processors in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Ms Britnell said processors like Warrnambool's Midfield Meat needed surety that they would be able to continue to supply the market and provide food to Australian consumers.

She said following conversations with Midfield Group general manager Dean McKenna, she had written to the minister and asked her to put safeguards in place, which may include deeming the meat and dairy supply chain as essential services.

Ms Britnell said processing facilities had been working closely with state and federal agencies to help stop the spread of the virus and were seeking exemptions from any future mandatory shutdowns or transport restrictions.

"Our region is the largest food production area in the state and we are in uncertain times because of the coronavirus," Ms Britnell said.

"We need to have some safeguards in place to ensure meat can still be processed and milk can still be collected and processed should the worst happen with the global pandemic.

"It's vitally important not only for consumers, but for producers, that we have continuity and certainty for food production.

"Australia produces two-thirds more food than we consume here, so our food production industry is absolutely critical - not only for us but for the world.

"It's vital that importance is recognised and protected from the worst case scenario of this virus - while still maintaining the highest level of hygiene and safety."

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Mr McKenna welcomed the move.

Earlier this week, Ms Britnell said that Victoria's transport and logistics industry was again proving it was the backbone of the nation.

The opposition transport spokeswoman said that while supermarket shelves were stripped bare of essential items during the coronavirus outbreak, the transport industry was putting in the hard yards.

She said transport drivers were working overtime to make sure deliveries were getting through, while supply chain workers were also putting in long hours.

"I want to put on the record my thanks for all those people who are putting in extra hours to make sure Victorian's have what they need to get through these uncertain times. Your work is invaluable," she said.

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The story Calls for industries to be essential services first appeared on The Standard.

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