08 March 2022

SUBJECTS: Manufacturing; Medical manufacturing; Secure Jobs; procurement policy; Morrison Government neglect of manufacturing sector.
JESS WALSH, LABOR SENATOR FOR VICTORIA: We've been hearing today from the experts about what it's going to take to rebuild manufacturing in this country and rebuild medical manufacturing in particular. The Morrison government has absolutely thrown manufacturing off a cliff during the pandemic, and they have failed to take the benefits that they could have to rebuild this critically important sector. And we've heard from companies in this area who went to the government 18 months ago and said that they could manufacture rapid antigen tests right here in Box Hill and the Morison government refused to listen. Instead, in January, when we were in the middle of the omicron crisis, they imported from overseas millions of those tests.
The Morrison government won't stand up for manufacturing, they won't stand up for medical manufacturing, they won't stand up for the workers who want those secure jobs, and only Albanese Labor Government will rebuild manufacturing in this country. I'd like to now introduce Carina Garland, our fantastic candidate for Chisholm.
CARINA GARLAND, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR CHISHOLM: Thank you, Jess. And it's been a real pleasure having Ed and Jess here today with me to see the amazing ideas that are being generated in our local community that are failing to get the support of the federal government. Every day, I've been out knocking on doors in our community. And every single day, I hear from people that they want to see Australia make things again, and they want to have good secure jobs now and in the future. It is such a shame that the talents in our local community are not being supported to build the jobs of the future and to build the kinds of innovations that improve lives. Because that's what Labor is about - supporting people to live good lives and health is fundamental to that. Medical research is fundamental to that. And having good secure jobs is fundamental to that. And if those are the things that we want for our community in Chisholm, then we need to change this government.
ED HUSIC, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INDUSTRY AND INNOVATION: Well said Carina and spot on, and having visited here a couple of times now, and seeing for lease signs up, empty shops, lower business activity that's happened under the coalition's watch is truly disgraceful, with no serious plan to turn this around. And people like Carina who are saying, we need to back good, secure jobs, invest in skills, and invest in the type of economic and business activity that provides all that longer term, it’s really important to have someone like Carina pushing that. And thank you so much to Senator Walsh, who I know has been focused on this, representing this state in Canberra, but also focused on these issues. And today, we hear that the Prime Minister is going to make yet another grand announcement about what he'll do to support manufacturing. And just bear in mind two years ago at the Press Club in October 2020, roughly two years ago, he was there announcing a $1.5 billion dollar manufacturing initiative of which he has spent the grand total $85 million so far. We rank amongst the worst in the OECD for manufacturing self-sufficiency. We still import way too much in terms of critical technology. We have a big job to rebuild Australian manufacturing. The Coalition is disgracefully sitting on manufacturing funds, not getting these funds out the door to rebuild manufacturing but is focused on its own re-election pitch. We will see big flash announcements just like we're seeing today all about their election, not about the economy, all about their jobs, not about more jobs for Australians. And when you look at what they're talking about today, in terms of the Prime Minister's big, latest new flashy announcement, supporting for example, medical manufacturing, and particularly around personal protective equipment, he had a chance to work with local industry just a few weeks ago. They laid out a big government contract to replenish PPE and they didn't even invite local industry to be part of that and to create more work, more jobs. So, what we see out of this government, and surprisingly, what we see out of the Prime Minister, he has some problem with the phrase “building back better”, but all we want is for him to build back something. To actually invest the money that he puts into all these announcements. As we've often seen, they make the flash announcement and then sometime later, we discover that they haven't actually invested the amounts that they previously said they would. And we find that it's only about them chasing votes in their key marginals. All the Australians we speak with and the people that Carina is talking with as well here locally, they want Australia to be a country that makes things. But to do that you need to invest in the research, you need to invest in the capability you need to invest in skills, which this government constantly fails to do. Labor has a very positive vision. We think, through our national reconstruction fund $15 billion target key industry sectors, including medical manufacture, where we will prioritise investments, where we will work with local industry, to make sure that we are backing the breakthroughs that will improve the quality of life for average Australians. That $15 billion national reconstruction fund will drive a lot more economic opportunity. Our “Buy Australian” plan, reforming government procurement. The government at a federal level spends billions on the goods and services it needs and yet it under spends or under invest in local industry capability and creating business and new jobs for Australians. Under Labor’s “Buy Australian” plan that will end. We will make sure we reform procurement, give openings for local industry to chip in and meet the needs of the Australian Government using Australian taxpayer dollars, mind you, to make that happen. We’re determine that we're not just going to have a government like what we see with the coalition, flash announcements. Today, it’s about manufacturing yesterday, it was about suddenly submarine bases, making all these grand promises about things that they should have done in the course of last three years, should have delivered after they made the announcement and didn't. The Australian public deserves better, they will get better with an Albanese Labor government. We’re determined to make that happen, because for communities like the ones that Karina wants to represent, we know it means a world of difference to do just that.