House debates

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Industry

2:56 pm

Photo of Bert Van ManenBert Van Manen (Forde, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology. Will the minister please update the House on how Australian industry is responding to the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic and how industry is benefiting from the JobKeeper payment?

Photo of Karen AndrewsKaren Andrews (McPherson, Liberal Party, Minister for Industry) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for his question. The coronavirus pandemic has presented challenges on an unprecedented scale for Australian industry. Their resilience has been absolutely outstanding. Australian industry have been able to respond to the rapidly changing situation because they have been backed and supported by a range of measures, most importantly our JobKeeper payment. The member for Forde would be pleased to know that in our home state of Queensland we have the wonderful example of Packer Leather, a fifth-generation Australian business, a family business, a manufacturing business. They are delighted that the JobKeeper payment has meant that they are able to keep their 100 local staff. This company was established in 1891, so they have survived the Spanish flu, two world wars, the Great Depression, the rise of plastics, foreign competition, offshore manufacturing, and a number of recessions. Today, that company is an international leader in the production of high-performance leathers, with a reputation for quality and innovation. They're a great example of the Australian fighting spirit and the sort of businesses that the JobKeeper payment is assisting.

Since the crisis began, I've been working with Australian industry, holding a number of roundtables, and speaking directly with CEOs from right across Australia. Our underlying goal has been ensuring that as many businesses as possible continue to keep Australians in jobs, and the JobKeeper payment has been vital to that.

Beyond that, our priority has been making sure that supply chains are secure and that we can maintain vital supplies and services. We've seen factories working around the clock to restock supermarket shelves. We've seen manufacturers pivot and adapt to produce the essential medical supplies that we need, including gowns, masks, gloves, and sanitisers. We've seen the Australian business community act as one, leaving rivalry and their own economic interests at the front door as they put the nation first. It's been both our duty and our privilege to support them with the JobKeeper payment. We've been able to deliver that because of our strong economic management.

You will find the frontline heroes of Australia's coronavirus response in our hospitals, but backing them at every step have been industry and workforce heroes. You will find them on the farm and on the factory floor. You'll find them in the cab of a truck and behind the supermarket checkout. For their dedication during this crisis we say: thank you. We are proud to back you during this challenging time. You are vital to Australia's post-COVID recovery.