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Monday, 1 September 2014
Page: 9162


Dr HENDY (Eden-Monaro) (14:58): My question is to the Minister for Industry. Will the minister inform the House how the government is working with Australian industry to identify and access new markets and create jobs and opportunities for the manufacturing sector in my electorate of Eden-Monaro and elsewhere?

Mr IAN MACFARLANE (GroomMinister for Industry) (14:58): I thank the very enthusiastic member for Eden-Monaro—

Mr Conroy interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Charlton will desist or leave. The choice is his.

Mr IAN MACFARLANE: who not only is a long-term resident of the Queanbeyan area but also knows the more than 500 manufacturers and small businesses associated with manufacturing in his electorate. This morning I was delighted to go out and visit ACT Steelworks and Michael and Dan Berry. As an old farmer, I must admit that when I saw the welders flashing, I thought, 'Here we go; I'll just roll up my sleeves and have a go at this again. I am sure I could still do it.' Of course, those skilled people would do it much better than I.

An honourable member interjecting

Mr IAN MACFARLANE: No, they do not have too many manual workers on that side of the House. I was there this morning, with the member for Eden-Monaro, to announce the $50 million Manufacturing Transition Program and to assist industry in their transition—

Mr Conroy interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Charlton will remove himself under 94(a).

The member for Charlton then left the chamber.

Mr IAN MACFARLANE: He goes out every time I stand up. I think it is due justice, Madam Speaker. In terms of the changes we are seeing in industry in Australia, while the previous government simply papered over the problems that kept emerging, we are actually approaching this issue and this challenge—I must admit it is a challenge—to make sure we get industry into the world's global supply chains, to make sure that we take opportunities to make better businesses, better jobs and better wages. To do that you need structural change, which leads to new markets and new job opportunities. The Manufacturing Transition Program will see grants between $1 million and $10 million awarded to businesses on a three to one basis, so that they can make that transition and, in many cases, move firms away from low-tech commodity-style production to advanced manufacturing using the natural advantages that Australia has. This is a strategic approach by this government to put together a package not only of practical and targeted infrastructure, not only of getting the economic fundamentals right but also putting together an industry package worth more than $1 billion to assist industry to meet the challenges of the future.

There will be an increased investment by this government in the skills and jobs area, as well as ensuring that science plays a bigger role in assisting industry and competitiveness as we go forward. I will have more to say on that in the very new future.