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Monday, 2 May 2016
Page: 4107

Ms CLAYDON (Newcastle) (12:14): It gives me great pleasure to speak to the member for Wakefield's motion that is before the House this morning. As the member for Newcastle, I have lived through a period of tremendous steel manufacturing in our city of more than 100 years. It was with great sadness that BHP closed its doors to steel manufacturing in Newcastle some 17 years ago now. We have had to make enormous transitions in our community, so I know full well the anxieties currently being experienced by the people of South Australia and Port Kembla. I know just how tough it is to look at your local community and see the heartbreak of massive job losses when a whole industry that generations of families in your community have worked at closes its doors.

Speaking for the people of Newcastle, you can be assured that we, like other steelmaking cities around Australia, feel your pain enormously, and I stand alongside the workers of those industries today to say that Labor will always put you and your jobs first and foremost in our plans. Labor is the party of jobs. It always has been and it always will be. We need to ensure that these communities get the absolute benefits. That is why Labor's six-point steel industry plan was recently released. It reaches out to ensure that Australia continues to make steel in this country and that we are a nation that continues to manufacture.

Members opposite have sung the praises of the submarine contract going to South Australia. I am acutely aware of South Australia's experience, in terms of this government having had no plan for Australian jobs and Australian industry for years and years and now suddenly trying to play catch-up by making sure these submarines are built in South Australia. I did write to the minister last week, after she made the announcement around the submarines, and said, 'Terrific news.' We very much welcome submarines being manufactured in Australia, although we are yet to see the detail around those contracts: whether or not all 12 submarines will be built here in Australia, whether or not there will be a mandated local content component of those contracts and whether communities and shipbuilding industries in my city of Newcastle will benefit from any of the component work. I see the member for Gellibrand here. His shipbuilders down in Williamstown would also be very anxious to see if there are any kinds of flow-on benefits to shipbuilding communities around Australia that have seen massive job losses under this government's watch.

I have two shipyards at Tomago and Carrington in my electorate of Newcastle that have shed more than 1,000 jobs. That is 1,000 highly skilled men and women who have long worked on defence naval projects in the past and who are without a job, and there are another 1,400 at Williamstown in Victoria. That is the shame of this government. You think that we might have forgotten. You may stupidly think that the Australian people do not remember what has happened under your watch and think that it will be forgotten. There is no way that the people of my community or the people of Williamtown will forget about those jobs.

The lack of commitment to Australian manufacturing and to shipbuilding in particular has been astonishing. Let us hope that the contracts for those subs brings some relief to those communities and that it is not too late to shore up the capacity of our nation for naval shipbuilding. Let us make sure that the steel industry in Australia has a strong and prosperous future too. This government has an appalling track record when it comes to Australian jobs and Australian industry. Members opposite have a lot of work to do. The Australian people will not be fooled by these shenanigans. (Time expired)

Debate adjourned.