Michell Leather Gunnedah
Mr JOHN BARTLETT: My question is addressed to the Minister for Regional Development. How is the Government supporting Michell Leather Gunnedah to create jobs and expand its export market?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The attitude of a number of members of the House is quite offensive and shows no respect for the standards of the Chamber. I note particularly the Leader of The Nationals, who, despite having heard me warn members on a number of occasions that both questions and answers are to be heard in silence, continues to yell out about matters that are unrelated to the issue at hand. I ask him to conform to the standards of the House and observe the standing orders. I ask the honourable member for Port Stephens to repeat the question, which will be heard in silence.
Mr JOHN BARTLETT: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Regional Development. How is the Government supporting Michell Leather Gunnedah to create jobs and expand its export market?
Mr DAVID CAMPBELL: I thank the Country Labor member for Port Stephens. It is great that he is in fine form in the Chamber asking questions about regional New South Wales. Michell Leather is the largest employer in Gunnedah, producing tanned hides for export. Sixty per cent of its cattle hides are exported to buyers in Italy, and 40 per cent of its production is exported to Asia. Michell Leather is a major contributor to the economic welfare of the Gunnedah community. The Government is helping this company to expand and, at the same time, ensuring the company meets our strict environmental standards. In the process, the Government's financial assistance is protecting the jobs of 90 workers. With State Government support, the company is undertaking a $3 million expansion. The company is investing more than $1 million to produce a more environmentally friendly product and spending $2 million in upgrading equipment.
This is good news for the Gunnedah community and for the environment. The company is currently working with Gunnedah council and the Department of Environment and Conservation on stage one of its expansion. This involves the use of new technology to capture and recover chemicals used in the tanning process. The new recycling system will maximise water re-use and treated water will be recycled. Stage one of this three-stage redevelopment is expected to be completed by mid-year. The company also plans to invest nearly $2 million modernising its tanning plant. This Government's financial support is provided through its Regional Economic Transition Scheme. The scheme is designed to help support communities hit by business closures. By working with business and the community, the Government is helping to support and encourage business expansion in Gunnedah and also helping to protect the safety of the local community and workers.