Broad-brimmed hat maker Akubra will start using only rabbit skins imported from Europe in its products.
The ABC reports that the Iconic Australian brand has been importing some furs since the 1990s but will now cut the local fur processing operation from its facility in Kempsey on the NSW North Coast.
Akubra chief financial officer Roy Wilkinson told the ABC that only seven of the company’s 85-90 employees currently work in this part of the business. He said some would be able to move to other roles and probably only three or four jobs would be lost.
"We need two to three million rabbit skins to make what we make, and I'm getting about 10 to 15 per cent of that from Australian suppliers.
"But when you're only getting a small percentage [from Australia] and your operation is losing money, you have to make tough decisions."
As the Weekly Times reports, the change will not affect Akubra’s Australian Made Campaign status.
This stipulates that 50 per cent or more of the cost of making the product be attributed to local materials or production processes and are manufactured in Australia. The products will still meet these criteria.
One of the nation’s best-known Akubra enthusiasts, Queensland federal MP Bob Katter (pictured) does not approve of the change and said he may stop wearing the hats.
"It does not set a good example and it does not set me with a desire to continue to wear an Akubra hat, and that would be something that would be shared with so many other people," he told the ABC.
He said that people who wear the hats are not influenced by their cost.
"They buy it for style, they buy it for image, they buy it for who they are and for who they want to be," he said.
"And it would be a terrible tragedy if one of those great icons vanishes."