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Thursday, 14 February 2013
Page: 1493

Ms SMYTH (La Trobe) (16:42): I am very pleased this evening to be able to reflect on some of the practical ways in which the policies of this government, which go to support industries and workers right around the country, are being implemented in my seat of La Trobe. It is really only ever Labor that get the balance right in respect of these matters. We realise, of course, that the interests of industry and commercial ventures and the interests of workers are really not so very far apart.

I am very pleased to be able to reflect on my visit last week to APT, Australian Precision Technologies, a local business in Berwick in my electorate. It is a business that is operated by brothers and produces components for, amongst other things, the auto industry, the defence industry, the medical and aeronautical industries, and it is really doing very, very well. It is quite an inspiring story. It is a business that was built up over 20 years and it certainly supports the local workforce.

I was delighted to be able to advise them towards the end of last year about a grant of $650,000 which is supported by the Automotive New Markets Program. The grant has enabled them to purchase some new equipment to be used in their production line which will enable them to continue manufacturing and to continue producing components for industries, provide assistance and support to a workforce, contribute to the local economy, contribute to the national economy and, hopefully, expand their business and their opportunities as a result. The grant has facilitated, as I said, the purchase of a piece of equipment, and I was delighted to be able to meet a young apprentice who was operating that equipment last week, Luke Padovan, who has clearly been supported a great deal by the business and, clearly, is a very well regarded member of the team.

I am very pleased that we have been able to make such a practical contribution to APT, but I am also grateful for the very significant contribution they make to the local community and to our local economy. Initiatives like this support jobs in communities like mine and they are a focus of this government not only in communities like mine but in communities right around Australia. It is why, for example, we have expanded the Apprentice Kickstart Initiative, which provides financial incentives to local employers to take on engineering apprentices. It is appropriate, in the context of a discussion about a business like APT and the things that it does, that I applaud the minister for promoting the expansion of the Kickstart Initiative.

Engineering skills are an example of the kinds of skills that are critical to our economy. We are all about promoting high-skilled jobs, jobs that assist people to have an ongoing career and future prospects. They have been the focus of this government throughout its term. Since coming to office, we have assisted in the creation of around 850,000 jobs and we have invested in skills and training. We understand the needs of industry and workers.

On a separate note, but in some ways thematically linked, I would like to reflect this evening in the time left to me on the passing of a Labor stalwart who has also always very much understood the need to support workers and the need to simultaneously support the industries that they are employed in. Peter Redlich was a mentor and a supporter to and of many, including me. He was the man who established the law firm Holding Redlich, of which I am an alumnus. He certainly pursued the objectives of balancing the interests of workers and supporting the industries in which they were employed and he recognised that those interests were not always terribly far apart.

Peter’s contribution to the cause of Labor was lifelong. My best thoughts, and I suspect the best thoughts of many in this place, go to his family and friends and people who, in the next week I suspect, will be reflecting further on his life.