A nationally coordinated 'battle plan' is the only way to get Federal and State Government action to ignite the beleaguered marine industry was the message to more than 100 delegates at the first ever National Marine Industry Emergency Revival Summit.
The crisis forum was called as the marine Industry continues to struggle with the effects of the global financial crisis and the downturn in the retail sector.
From businesses who supply marine paint to the chief executive officers of some of the biggest names in boating, they came to have a voice over changes needed to save jobs and businesses that were closing every day.
Marine Queensland Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Don Jones said it was not alarmist to use the term crisis talks – this forum was needed to canvas as many options as possible to develop a priority action plan to help industry through tough economic times.
Mr Jones said nationally, the Boating Industry Associations represented more than 1,500 land and water based businesses employing around 12,000 people who have been virtually ignored by Federal and State governments who do not see the industry as a priority. More than 75 per cent of marine businesses were based in Queensland.
'We always hear about the loss to the livelihoods of farmers and the building industry but this industry is hurting too,' Mr Jones said. 'Family businesses have folded and jobs lost: the impact on marine businesses right across the country cannot be ignored. It is time to get serious to stem the ever increasing job losses within the industry.'
Marine Queensland teamed with the Boating Industries Alliance Australia for the summit with support from chief executive officers from Yamaha, Riviera, Maritimo and Telwater along with marine representatives from Victoria, New South Wales, West Australia and the Northern Territory to establish a member driven action plan.
Chairing the discussion was insolvency and reconstruction lawyer Scott Taylor from Taylor McDonald Lawyers who said it was important the industry was proactive rather than reactive.
'This is the time financially distressed businesses need to get good advice and support – many will leave this forum better equipped emotionally thanks to an opportunity to air their grievances with both industry and government inaction,' Mr Taylor said.
Priority will be given to the impact of Grey Imports – cheap foreign marine imports that may not comply with Australian safety standards – that are destabilising the marine retail market.
Local boat builders have warned many grey imports, which are unregistered in the US and Europe, are so bad they could only be registered in Australia and Somalia, with consumers being the ones to lose out.
Government interference in the form of over regulating, costs and red tape also came under fire and aggressive discussion by members, with a call for a Government action plan to combat interference.
Boating Industries Alliance Australia General Manager Nik Parker said this forum was about national issues and setting a national agenda so real and considered action could be taken to improve the industry.
'This was not about sitting back and simply being critical of the industry: this is about working toward improvements, sustainability and the survival of jobs and businesses into the future,' Mr Parker said.