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Thursday, 15 May 2014
Page: 3973

Ms BUTLER (Griffith) (09:48): I was visited yesterday and today by people who work at the Forgacs shipyard in my electorate of Griffith. I first met AMWU delegate Robert Proctor, who works at Forgacs shipyard in Griffith, at the Labour Day march.

A division having been called in the House of Representatives—

Sitting suspended from 09:49 to 09:58

Ms BUTLER: I first met Robert Proctor, who is a shipbuilder at the Forgacs shipyard in Griffith, a short time ago—on Labour Day. He came to speak to me about the shipping industry in Australia. I have met him again—yesterday and today—here in Canberra as he and his fellow workers have come to speak to me and to other members of the parliament about the future of the shipping industry in Australia. The shipping industry is presently winding down some of its major projects with very little, if any, work scheduled for the next 18 months. That period has been described as a valley of death, because if there is no work for shipbuilders then there are around 3,800 jobs to be lost in Australia as a consequence. That is terrible for those individuals who lose those jobs and for their families. It is terrible for our country, because if we lose those jobs then we decrease our capacity to maintain shipbuilding skills in this country, which means that future projects will be hit by impaired capacity for shipbuilding and impaired skills. The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and others have been calling for projects to be brought forward so that ship building skills can be maintained in this country. For example, work on the Sirius and the Success, two ships that require replacement, could be brought forward so that we could continue to have shipbuilding capacity in this country.

I am calling on the government to do something about giving concrete work, real work, for shipbuilders in this country. We have seen a budget this week with no solid commitments to the shipbuilding industry, an important industry for Australia's future. Why would we want to send the work involved in building our naval vessels offshore? We would not. Those vessels should be built in Australia. For that to be able to happen we need to make sure that Australians have the skills to build those ships onshore into the future, and that means projects right now. We have been described as being in the valley of death. This is the time we need to make sure shipbuilding continues to be done on these shores to secure jobs now and into the future.