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STA President meets Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott
May '14
The Specialised Textiles Association (STA) announces that its President of the Association, Mr Tom Gastin met with the Hon. Tony Abbott, MP Prime Minister of Australia, on Friday 23 May. 
Mr Gastin attended a lunch on behalf of all members of the STA. This was an opportunity to put the specialised textiles industry on the map in the political arena.
Mr Gastin was looked after on the day by Mr Craig Kelly MP (Member for Hughes). The event allowed Mr Gastin to meet a number of attendees - from big business owners and small business owners to politicians, including Ms Fiona Scott MP (Lindsay), Mr Russell Matheson MP (Macarthur), Mr Angus Taylor MP (Hume), Senator Marise Payne and the Hon. Tony Abbott, MP.
Mr Gastin was seated at the Prime Minister's table and was fortunate to have the only one-on-one chat with Mr Abbott  thanks to Mr Kelly, who introduced them immediately following Mr Abbott’s opening speech about the Budget. 
The discussion points between Mr Gastin and Mr Abbott included:
-The pressure on councils, governments and education departments to provide more shade to protect children against skin cancer.  Mr Gastin went on explain that the STA is the industry association representing members who provide this shade and protection, as well as other specialised textile products.
-The challenges the industry is facing and how it is still recovering from the poorly managed BER program. 
-The Specialised Textiles Association and its initiatives to work through these issues (e.g. by developing a Business Accreditation program, establishing the Fabric Structures Committee to provide the right information to those making the decisions, and affiliating with the Cancer Council). 
-The 'Cover our Kids' campaign and the pressure this is putting on councils and local government. 
Specialised textiles is one of the few remaining manufacturing industries in Australia, and that in some areas we have skill and resource shortages. How Government support for our industry can result in placement of jobs from the larger manufacturers moving offshore. Small business is the largest employer in the country and this is where most new jobs will come from. Here is an opportunity for the PM to take action and to create jobs. 
Mr Abbott engaged and showed interest in the issues raised and asked what support the industry required. Mr Gastin responded, “The key for us at the moment is to be the first point of contact for those making decisions on shade so we can provide them with the right information so they can make calculated decisions.” Mr Gastin passed on a letter highlighting the issues discussed and the PM said he would read it and would relay the information to those that need to know. 


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