Labor will Create New Jobs for Australians

Federation Chamber 23/06/2021

Mr KHALIL (Wills) (18:33): This motion purports to celebrate the government’s $1.5 billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy, with the space sector and industry a big part of that. There is a slight bit of hypocrisy in all of this. The motion notes that space is one of the six national priorities in the government’s manufacturing plan. We all know and have heard that the Australian space industry has a proud history. We have been part of every deep space mission NASA has ever flown, going back to 1957, with the establishment of the Woomera facility in South Australia. In 1962, the CSIRO Parkes telescope supported NASA’s Mariner 2 mission. And we all know about Parkes and Honeysuckle Creek, which played a vital role, and a famous role, in humanity’s great adventure to the moon. I think we all agree we want to see Australia be part of the exploration of space in the 21st century, be a leader in this space, be part of the future and be able to participate in a trillion dollar industry which will provide enormous opportunity for Australians, particularly our STEM professionals.

But let’s take a closer look at the basis of the motion, which was the $1.5 billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy the government announced in October last year. They promised that this investment would go to six key target areas: resources technology and critical minerals processing; food and beverage; medical products; recycling and clean energy; defence; and space. They promised that this program would spend $1.5 billion over 10 years and create 380,000 direct and indirect jobs. The Prime Minister promised to spend $48 million to create 2,600 new manufacturing jobs in the 2020-21 financial year—this financial year; the one ending in seven days. The Prime Minister has actually spent $79 million—wow, that sounds good; it’s more than the $48 million he promised. He will have spent it by 1 July, but guess what? With that $79 million he created 78 manufacturing jobs. That’s more than a million dollars per job. Don’t worry, Prime Minister, you’ve still got seven days left to create the other 2,522 manufacturing jobs to reach your government’s target!

But we shouldn’t be surprised by this because this government doesn’t really believe in backing Australian manufacturing. It’s actually not in their DNA. The fact is that, since this government took office with Prime Minister Tony Abbott, we have lost 90,000 jobs in Australian manufacturing. Let that sink in—90,000 pairs of boots have been hung up. The government dared—goaded—car manufacturers to leave Australian shores. And they did. Hundreds of workers in my electorate of Wills lost their jobs when the Broadmeadows Ford factory closed in 2016. The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources’s own estimate showed that 50,000 Australian manufacturing jobs were lost just last year—50,000 jobs gone under their watch in one year. The government’s own budget forecast papers have said that there’s a cut to real wages over the next four years. For a manufacturing worker that is a cut in real wages of $7,800. There are fewer jobs, lower wages and no vision for the future. They can put up as many motions as they want, but this government’s record is one of neglect.

Unlike this government, Labor have a vision for a future made in Australia. We want Australia to be a country that makes things. We have a plan to do it. A Labor government will deliver a $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund for projects that will create secure, well-paid jobs, rebuild our local manufacturing industry and capacity, and make Australia more competitive and self-sufficient. A Labor government will deliver an Australian Skills Guarantee to make sure one in 10 jobs on major federal infrastructure projects are given to apprentices, trainees or cadets. A Labor government will make more trains in Australia with our National Rail Manufacturing Plan and will ensure every dollar of federal funding spent on rail projects creates local jobs. A Labor government will deliver a Defence Industry Development Strategy to ensure that the $270 billion invested in the sector uses local workers. Only Labor will deliver the investment and leadership to rebuild Australian manufacturing because we actually believe in it. We believe in creating good and secure jobs and we believe in making Australia more competitive and self-sufficient.