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Wednesday, 23 November 2022
Page: 3391


Mr HUSIC (ChifleyMinister for Industry and Science) (11:36): As much as I could listen to the member for Kennedy all day—and you know that I would, my friend—unfortunately, I need to wrap things up in terms of the industry portfolio. We do have a very energetic agenda in our space on industry. To be honest, coming in as a new government, it's driven by a simple proposition: 'Let's get moving.' There are a lot of things that we think, post those first lockdowns and post the initial waves of the pandemic, put enormous pressure on industry, plus what's happening in the world and in our trading systems. We're thinking about different ways of getting things done onshore so that we are able to deal with supply chain vulnerabilities and the critical things we need are there at the times that we need them. We can also play a part in the global value chain and global supply chains as well. It gives us a lot of opportunity to build up industry capability in this country.

The reason we do it, in many respects, is to provide long-term secure jobs. In manufacturing, if you look at the types of jobs that are generated, 80 per cent of them are full-time, well-paying jobs. With the types of things that we want to do—things like the National Reconstruction Fund, the Buy Australian Plan and the reforms to government procurement—we want to be able to build that capacity, as I said, and put it to work across different areas. The thing that we deal with most in this space is that when you talk about manufacturing people have a view in their minds that it's old school—smokestacks, big gears and lines of people working away. But manufacturing has evolved. As a capability across different areas, it has evolved.

We're looking at delivering higher value-add in resources and agriculture, both being big pillars of our economy longer term, but we also look at medical science; we look at transport; we look at what's happening with respect to energy—low emissions technology, renewable technology, some of which was touched on by some of the speakers here today—and the defence industry. We're looking at emerging capabilities and critical technologies as well. All that manufacturing capability across those areas offers the men and women of this country jobs that will be secure and long term and will contribute something not just to the economy but to the nation's wellbeing.

Within this budget, we put a down payment on the National Reconstruction Fund, and we'll be releasing further details of that shortly. In terms of the Buy Australian Plan and reforms to government procurement, we're looking to see how we open up government contracts to business here. We also made targeted investments in regional manufacturing through $111.3 million to stimulate and support regional manufacturing capabilities. With the member for Blair, who is here today, I visited some of that work in the medical space in his—

Mr Burnell interjecting

Mr HUSIC: Oh, it's the member for Spence now. He's transformed—we've developed that manufacturing capability as well! We are looking in different parts of the country at supporting that. If I may, Deputy Speaker Ananda-Rajah, reflect on people who will lift manufacturing capability in renewables, I recall the group that are involved in wave energy generation, which you set up, and I was very interested to meet with them. It's not just in terms of alternative forms of energy generation but also all the stuff that goes in it from cement to steel, from fabrication and manufacturing to assembly. All that work will not only help us in the longer term to move towards net zero but it also provides sustainable work in the longer term.

In the remaining time I have—because I know my colleagues here are itching to speak on their portfolio areas and all the good things our government's doing in that space—I want to address one thing. The government treats this process seriously. When we were in opposition, we sat there as shadow ministers and we questioned ministers and we stayed to actually hear the answers. It appears the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and shadow industry minister, and the shadow minister for science want to be able to fling accusations and make all sorts of claims but not be held to account for the dismal performance of the previous government, which we have to deal with on coming into government. We have to clean up their mess and also have a longer term view about what needs to be done.

In particular, their Modern Manufacturing Initiative, seemed like a great idea on paper. However, of that massive $1.5 billion investment which could have lifted capability, 85 per cent was spent in the weeks leading into the election. It was announced two years earlier, but the bulk of it was spent leading into election. This is the decrepit and very shabby way in which those opposite deal with industry policy in this country. I'm not going to respond to their questions because, frankly, if they can't be bothered to stay here to hear the answers then that's the respect with which they should be treated.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.