Who actually supports Manufacturing

May 25, 2021

I'm happy to talk on this MPI brought forward by the member of Chifley. I should say upfront that I'm a proud member of the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union. Why am I part of the AMWU? Because I can imagine how great Australia could be if we made more things. Let's look at some facts, which were touched on by the member for Chifley, but avoided by the minister in his contribution. Since the coalition took office, there are 90,000 fewer jobs in Australian manufacturing. Let's just strip that down. We heard fine words flying from that side of the chamber. The minister took us on a tour of Hinkler and the surrounds, but there are 90,000 fewer jobs in Australian manufacturing since those geniuses opposite came to power. Let's look at some of the things they actually did—not their words, but what they did. They dared car manufacturers to leave, and the manufacturers did leave.

A government member interjecting

Yes, a Victorian member interjecting about the car manufacturers leaving. It took a pandemic for them to actually wake up to how important Australian core capabilities are. As a member of the AMWU, as a member of the Labor Party that cares about jobs, we can imagine what Australia would be like without manufacturing. We can think big, like the big Australian; remember BHP thinking big in terms of being a bold and successful manufacturing sector? We believed that before the pandemic. We believed in producing, marketing and value-adding—value-adding to our food and fibre, value-adding to the things we dig out of the ground, value-adding before we send it overseas. But what do we have from those opposite, the 'I don't hold a hose' gang? They're happy to put out a brochure with a picture of a hose. They're happy to send that out to people and happy to get some consultants to take a photo of a hose, so they can test the market with a few people and then send out a brochure.

I want to be part of a party with a leader that will hold the hose, will go towards the flame and will say: 'We believe in manufacturing. We believe in an Australia that makes things.' Our leader believed that before the pandemic hit. We know from the minister's own figures that the department of industry's own estimates indicate 50,000 Australian manufacturing jobs were lost last year. What else is there? That extra little cherry on that rancid cake is the idea that there will be a cut to real wages for Australian manufacturing workers of $7,800. So they talk about the great brochures that they've got with hoses, but, when it actually comes to helping Australian manufacturers, they're missing.

I know that this Prime Minister is the king of the photo opportunity. He will do anything to get in to a photo op to look like he's doing something. I even remember him turning up at a manufacturing plant in 2019. Unfortunately, it was a manufacturing plant in the United States!

Mr Husic: Whoops!

Whoops! In fact, it was during an election campaign. A serving Australian Prime Minister stood beside a campaigning presidential candidate Donald Trump, where the former President told 1,500 Trump supporters that he was bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States. Our Prime Minister standing next to a campaigning US presidential candidate! It was unbelievable in terms of diplomatic nous, especially when that guy turned out to be a loser and the democratic candidate is now President Biden! I don't think that's ever happened before. I assume that the advancer was sacked on the spot for putting an Australian Prime Minister in the middle of a US presidential campaign—unbelievable!

Let's look at what manufacturing really can deliver in terms of sovereign capability. We know that the Morrison government has spent $5.9 million more on consultant fees than the actual mRNA vaccine manufacture. Can you believe that?

Mr Husic: With them I can!

During a pandemic, they start up: 'We'll do some manufacturing. Let's get some brochures out. Let's get the consultants out there.' The Morrison government has used manufacturing to do what it's best at, to announce and re-announce and then announce again the same money! What else did they do? They picked a fight with our No. 1 trading partner where we actually can sell some products. This government is a disaster for manufacturing jobs.