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Wednesday, 15 February 2012
Page: 1475

Ms RISHWORTH (Kingston) (19:25): I rise today to raise a very important issue: the future of the manufacturing sector here in Australia. Manufacturing is a key industry for our national economy, providing jobs, skills and investment opportunities across Australia. As we know, there are currently significant challenges facing many manufacturing companies as a result of the strength of the Australian dollar, which is affecting demand for our exports overseas. However, I believe manufacturing has a future in this country, and this government is committed to ensuring that it does. This side of the House stands shoulder to shoulder with this industry and its workers to ensure that after the mining boom has come and gone we continue to have a strong manufacturing sector in this country. This is in clear contrast to the opposition, who are prepared to abandon manufacturing if they are ever elected.

Like many other electorates, my electorate of Kingston has a strong manufacturing presence, with the most recent ABS statistics indicating that a sixth of my constituents are employed in that industry. Close to a million people work in this industry. It offers well-paid, high-skill jobs; encourages investment; contributes to research and development and is an important part of our national economy.

Labor has a history of supporting manufacturing through tough times. In my electorate I have seen this commitment firsthand. Many people were extremely disappointed when in 2008 Mitsubishi announced it would close its doors. I was pleased at the support provided by federal and state Labor governments to retrain workers who lost their jobs and also the support for the creation of new jobs though the co-investment with industry as part of the SA Innovation and Investment Fund. As a result of the government's co-investment, many local manufacturers were able to expand and diversify, which has created jobs in our local community in the south as well as in wider Adelaide.

High-tech, high-skilled innovative manufacturing is the future for Australia. This side of the House is looking at how we support our manufacturing base to move into this space. One significant example of the state government providing assistance for innovative competition is the development of the old Mitsubishi site in Tonsley. When Mitsubishi left that site, I was extremely pleased that the state government bought it. They have a plan to transform the old Mitsubishi relic into a vibrant and integrated mixed-use employment precinct that will significantly grow the industrial and economic base of southern Adelaide. The site, once completed, will provide training and also support jobs, with the state government's vision that it will become a hub for innovative companies working in environmental industries, sustainable technologies and advanced manufacturing. This will transform what would have been just a vacant and unproductive site abandoned by Mitsubishi into a productive industrial precinct in southern Adelaide. The first stage of this transformation has already begun, with the state committing $125 million to a new TAFE campus on which construction has already begun. That will support over 8,000 students. Like the South Australian government, the federal government recognises the importance of strengthening the industry to keep jobs and skills in Australia. The government has focused on helping industries adjust, through co-investment. Whether it is in the steel industry or the automotive industry, we are strengthening our industry participation plans and appointing supplier advocates to ensure that local companies are part of the supply chain, and our clean energy future initiatives provide government assistance for industries to prepare for a carbon constrained future. We have developed a comprehensive road map for innovation though our 10-year Powering Ideas: An Innovation Agenda for the 21st Century program, and we have introduced new R&D tax incentives and cooperative research centres to enhance productivity through innovation and create synergy between research and industry. This government has an extremely strong record of supporting manufacturing in this country.

This is in stark contrast to the coalition, who will not support manufacturing. They want to cut support. The opposition have proposed a $500 million cut from the Automotive Transformation Scheme, and they have indicated that they will cease support for the car industry by 2015. This would be a disastrous blow for the future of the automotive industry. Over 200,000 workers' jobs would be lost, not to mention the many thousands of jobs that are indirectly linked. So I call on the coalition to support the car industry and ensure it has a bright future. (Time expired)