Thousands of textile, clothing and footwear industry jobs could be lost if the federal government pushes ahead with plans to freeze tariffs at 2005 levels for another five years, it was claimed on Tuesday.

Concerned union chiefs and the Victorian government fear up to 30,000 people could lose their jobs if the government's A$678 million textile, clothing and footwear assistance program is ditched for a new scheme for the most successful companies.

The plans were unveiled earlier this year when officials admitted some companies would not survive as a result of the decision which follows a study into a troubled industry worth A$9 billion that employs 65,000 people.

The Productivity Commission yesterday held public hearings in Melbourne into the plans which wants to slash tariffs to five per cent over the 10 years to 2015, beginning in 2005 with a drop of 7.5 per cent to 17.5 per cent for clothing and five per cent to 15 per cent for footwear.

Victorian Manufacturing Minister Tim Holding said about half of the national industry was based in his state. "Our best guess is that it would be something over 30,000 jobs at risk," he told ABC Radio.

Textiles, Clothing and Footwear Union Victorian secretary Michelle O'Neill added: "The commission's preference would be to reduce the tariff levels to five per cent in most cases by 2010.

"Now that would have a massive impact on this industry. Many TCF jobs are in regional communities."