Opinion Pieces

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LABOR’S PLAN TO REBUILD MANUFACTURING IN CQ

February 23, 2022

SENATOR MURRAY WATT
SHADOW MINISTER FOR NORTHERN AUSTRALIA
SHADOW MINISTER FOR QUEENSLAND RESOURCES
LABOR SENATOR FOR QUEENSLAND


LABOR’S PLAN TO REBUILD MANUFACTURING IN CQ

Central Queensland has a proud history in manufacturing, on the back of mining and agriculture machinery and the railways that span our state. 

There is still plenty of manufacturing expertise across CQ, with workshops across Rocky, Gladstone, Biloela and Emerald providing good jobs and first rate equipment.

Despite these local successes, we’ve seen manufacturing decline under the ten-year-old Federal Government. 

The LNP literally chased the Australian car industry offshore, cutting support for automotive manufacturing in 2015. Our reliance on manufactured goods from overseas has been brought to the surface through COVID-19, with builders, hospitals and more suffering from supply shortages and supply chain interruptions. 

But it seems Scott Morrison and his local MPs still haven’t learned we need to make things here.

Just last week it was revealed the Morrison-Joyce Government overlooked Australian manufacturers to favour cheap overseas suppliers for millions of face masks, gowns, gloves and other PPE. 

Let’s not forget this happened with rapid antigen tests too. Aussie firms approached the government about producing RATs here. But Scott Morrison said we didn’t need them. We now have a bizarre situation where Australian-made tests are being exported overseas, while Australians were struggling to find RATs at home. 

The Prime Minister swore Aussies wouldn’t be caught short of critical medical items yet here he is, doing nothing to work with local industry to ensure we avoid this occurring again. Time and time again, we see top notch Aussie companies struggle to break into the local market because of this government's lack of belief in Australian industry.

The point is we need to invest in manufacturing now, to generate new jobs and new export opportunities in CQ. It would be a game changer for Central Queenslanders and help reinvigorate an industry that has been left behind by Scott Morrison. 

Labor has announced a Buy Australian Plan that is determined to send a clear signal. We want to use the government’s purchasing power to back local manufacturers wherever we can.

An Anthony Albanese Labor Government will also establish a $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund, which will partner with local firms to rebuild our manufacturing industry and take it into new areas. 

Part of this fund will be used for medical manufacturing and to help smelters, refineries and other heavy industry take advantage of the latest technology and energy sources. Labor’s candidates, Russell Robertson and Matt Burnett, are fighting hard to make sure CQ gets a piece of the pie. 

And what that means for CQ is more jobs, well-paid jobs, for years to come. 

The pandemic has proved manufacturers can adapt to make ventilators, masks and hand sanitiser. We need to work with local industry to make sure Central Queensland has those opportunities too. 

Only Labor is committed to working alongside CQ manufacturers to make sure the industry is here to stay. 

Central Queensland deserves more jobs in more industries. When we Buy Australian, that’s what Anthony Albanese and Labor will deliver.

This opinion piece was first published in CQ Today on Wednesday, 23 February 2022.

A FAIR GO FOR AUSTRALIA