Feb 8, 2012

Question without notice

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (14:36):  My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport representing the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, and Minister for Industry and Innovation. Minister, how is the government ensuring that Australia has a strong manufacturing industry that creates jobs and builds the economy for the future?

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (14:37):  I thank the member for Throsby for his question and, indeed, he understands that in a changing world we do have to prepare for the economy of the future. In recent months I have made a number of visits to the Illawarra, one to open the SMART Infrastructure Facility at the University of Wollongong—a world class facility that is attracting international attention, making sure that we are at the forefront of innovation when it comes to manufacturing and when it comes to ensuring that we remain a country which makes things.

In recent months also, I was with the Prime Minister when the Prime Minister announced the rollout of the National Broadband Network to the suburbs of the Illawarra, in the electorates of Cunningham and Throsby and also down to the electorate of Gilmore. The fact is that we do need to innovate. That is what the National Broadband Network is doing, replacing the old copper wire network of a hundred years ago with the technology of the future. Of course, today we have with us an important sector of the manufacturing sector: those people involved in the auto industry. Those people are ensuring that we are able to innovate, not just stay as we are but to move forward, produce cars that are cleaner, cars that are greener, cars that are more efficient—the cars of the future.

We know that the auto sector is so important in terms of driving manufacturing innovation right across the economy. It reaches a tipping point, just as it has in shipping and why the government is acting there, whereby if you do not have a certain level of industry it disappears completely. That is something that this government understands and that is why we are determined to stand with those communities when it comes to the auto sector. That is why we have the New Car Plan for a Greener Future. It produces some 46,000 jobs in auto manufacturing but, as a result of that, it has a multiplier effect on the millions of jobs that exist in manufacturing across the system.

We understand that. That is why we are voting for our plan. We understood that when it came to steel manufacturing, when we voted for the $300 million Steel Transformation Plan. Remember that night, the late Tuesday night sitting, when those opposite voted ‘no’ 32 times to the MRRT, including the support for the steel industry. We have on this side a group of people committed to maintaining jobs and maintaining a future for manufacturing. Those opposite have nothing but cuts. We know the shadow minister offered up the cuts–

(Time expired)