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Tuesday, 19 March 2013
Page: 2677


Mr CHEESEMAN (Corangamite) (22:26): The most important job I have and my Labor colleagues have is supporting and creating jobs across our economy. Since being elected in 2007, in my part of the world, in Geelong, Labor has been busy working with our private sector employers to help support jobs. Principally, we have invested in Ford, keeping them manufacturing motor vehicles; we have invested in Shell, keeping them producing petroleum; and, obviously we have helped to support Alcoa, particularly given the high Australian dollar.

About three weeks ago I was very pleased to hear of Labor's next chapter in helping to support manufacturing jobs in the Australian economy, particularly within my federal seat of Corangamite. Labor's $1 billion manufacturing statement is about building on these investments. Once fully implemented, this will ensure that large projects must give Australian businesses a fair chance to win work. In fact, any project over $500 million needs to provide work opportunities for local manufacturers. It is estimated that this initiative alone will create $16 billion of work for Australian manufacturing companies.

We have also put in place protections to ensure that we do not have products unfairly dumped on the Australian economy at below production costs. We are also supporting work to ensure that governments will be required to buy Australian made product, when that is possible. We have been investing significantly within my electorate to ensure that we build the skills we need as a nation and as a local economy. That is why the federal Labor has invested some $21 million to support the development of carbon fibre and also to support the delivery of training in our economy. This is in stark contrast to what the state Liberals have done in Victoria where they have ripped millions of dollars out of our TAFE training system. Unfortunately, they have also written to the Commonwealth government asking that the Geelong region specifically be opened up to more 457 visa workers.

In Geelong, we have an unemployment rate higher than the state average. We have high-skilled employees who have not been able to secure work in our local economy, yet we have the state Liberal government wanting to open up further 457 visa employment opportunities to overseas workers. We have a perfect storm situation, as identified by Minister O'Connor a number of weeks ago, when cuts were made to TAFE training, denying young people the opportunity to access the skills required to gain ongoing local work. We also have the state Liberal government wanting to open up more opportunities for 457 visa workers within the Geelong region.

Through the course of this week, I have called on the new state Liberal Premier, Mr Napthine, to confirm whether he supports the position adopted by his predecessor, which was to open up more 457 visa workers within the Geelong economy. To date, he has failed to rule out whether he supports the previous Premier's position or he is going to take a different course of action.