Jan 31, 2019

Media Release – Coalition refuses to commit to a National Rail Manufacturing Plan – Thursday, 31 January 2019

Fifteen months after the Senate called for the establishment of a National Rail Manufacturing Plan the government has finally responded to the Senate inquiry, but refused to adopt any of the bipartisan committee’s recommendations.

Labor, Liberal and Greens senators all agreed that a National Rail Manufacturing Plan was the best solution to maximise the benefits for Australians from the $100 billion plus investment expected in rail over the next decade.

Orders for new passenger railcars is expected to grow by 11,000 in the coming years, it is critical we make the right choices now to ensure the manufacturing capabilities associated with their production remain in Australia.

Unlike the Coalition, Labor has listened to the evidence of experts and acted.

By establishing a National Rail Plan, a Shorten Labor Government will ensure that more trains are built in Australia by local manufacturing workers  and that every dollar of Federal funding spent on rail projects goes towards creating local jobs and protecting our rail industry.

Labor will also:

  • Establish an Office of National Rail Industry Coordination, to undertake a national audit of the adequacy, capacity and condition of passenger trains  and develop train priority plans, including a proposed delivery schedule for the next ten years.
  • Reinstate the important role of the Rail Supplier Advocate cut by the Liberals in 2013 – to help small and medium-sized enterprises identify export opportunities and to get a foot in the door with government purchasing bodies.
  • Establish a Rail Industry Innovation Council – to prevent the loss of more jobs and address the need for more local research & development, skills and capabilities.

Australia will spend more on rail in the next decade than on submarines. It’s important to get that investment right.

This will be complemented by Labor procurement policy which will ensure that more public and large private projects will be required to put plans in place to give Australian firms a chance to win work on major projects.

Labor believes that investment in rail should create local jobs and boost our domestic manufacturing capability – rather than just flowing to overseas industry competitors.

The Australian rail manufacturing industry employs 5000 workers, with another 7000 in the supply chain. But the industry has lost over 3000 jobs in the past decade.

Labor’s plan will maximise the amount of work that goes to Australian firms – creating Australian jobs.