Monday, 26 October 2020
Private Members' Business
Australian Made Products
That this House:
(1) acknowledges the renewed interest, both in Australia and overseas markets, in Australian made products in the wake of the global pandemic;
(2) recognises that:
(a) Australian made products have a reputation for quality and value;
(b) the changing global marketplace creates new opportunities for Australian manufacturers;
(c) the Government has committed $5 million over the next four years to promote 'Australian Made' and expand its reach overseas; and
(d) buying Australian Made supports local manufacturing businesses and local jobs; and
(3) encourages all Australians to buy Australian Made where possible to support our local businesses as part of the national economic recovery.
As we chart our economic recovery it's more important than ever to back our local producers and manufacturers and support Australian jobs. Australian made products are synonymous with high quality, safe and ethical goods that support local jobs. I've seen firsthand when visiting manufacturers in my electorate of Longman, like Factory Direct 4x4 Exhausts and Roy Gripsky and Sons, both in Narangba, how important businesses like these are to the local economy. They create jobs locally as well as further afield through various supply chains. In fact manufacturing employs almost 5,000 people in my electorate. To put that in context, the number of people employed in manufacturing in Longman makes up 7.4 per cent of all people employed in local industry jobs. This puts Longman among the top tier of electorates in Queensland that are providing manufacturing employment opportunities.
It's just not manufacturers. Longman is also home to some wonderful producers and innovators like Little White Goat Cheese in Wamuran. Little White Goat Cheese owner, Karen Lindsay, started out a few years ago with two goats on her farm. She now has about 100 goats and produces anything from soap to ice cream and custard. She has created the world's first freeze-dried goat feta cheese that can keep in a pantry for up to one year without spoiling. This innovative product is now being sold to a number of high-end restaurants as well as IGA supermarkets. The COVID-19 pandemic has also inspired Karen to invent a product called 'love handles', which prevent shoppers from coming into direct contact with the handles on shopping baskets and trolleys.
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented us with challenges. But it has also presented enormous opportunities for Australian manufacturers and producers. There is no finer example of this than Karen, who has rightly been recognised as a great local businesswoman and innovator. Despite these successes, Australia is still reliant on other countries for many products that could be produced locally. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the extent of this reliance on overseas products. For example, Australia has just one factory producing PPE face masks—prior to the COVID-19 pandemic—supplying just five per cent of the Australian market share. Nine out of 10 Australians have said they believe Australia should produce more products locally. In fact, there has been a groundswell of interest in Australian made products since the start of the pandemic. Since the virus hit, 52 per cent of Australians have shown a high preference for Australian made products. Almost half of all Australians are more likely to buy more Australian made products. A recent KPMG study found that if households spent an extra $50 a week buying Australian made goods, it would deliver a $30 billion boost to the nation's COVID-19 recovery and create tens of thousands more jobs. One of my main aspirations in government is to help create more jobs and reduce the unemployment rate.
This government understands the importance of local manufacturing and has a plan to help local business grow, become more resilient and boost global competitiveness. The government has committed $5 million over the next four years to promote Australian made products overseas. The $1.5 billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy will also help harness Australian manufacturing capabilities and drive our economic recovery and future resilience. Manufacturing is critical to a modern Australian economy and a vital part of our response during times of crisis. It is key to almost every supply chain and adds value across all sectors. The strategy will be led by industry, for industry. The government will act as a strategic investor and, together, we will grow manufacturing by getting the economic conditions right for manufacturers, making science and technology work for industry, building national resilience, and focusing on Australia's areas of advantage. We will work with industry to evolve the strategy. Over time, we will deliver manufacturing capability that drives positive economic outcomes and jobs for local communities. This strategy recognises that we must play to our strengths and target sectors that allow us to achieve scale and generate future growth. Research and development, innovation, design and services are all part of that. To be successful, we must compete on value, quality and products that are unique.
Manufacturing looks very different to what it did a generation ago. There is still a huge amount of success and opportunity within the sector. Investments by the Australian government to support Australian made products and manufacturers will place Australia as a world leader. Not only as we come through this global pandemic but into the future as well.
Today, Melburnians and Victorians have had the news that we have been waiting for. I want to thank my community of Dunkley for the exceptionally hard work, the challenges that have been overcome and the sacrifices that have been made to suppress this second wave of coronavirus. As of tomorrow night, restrictions are going to start to be lifted. There's more work to be done and we all have to continue together to support each other and to make sure that we practice the COVID-safe rules, but retail will start to open, hospitality will start to open. I would never say 'get on the beers' but the Premier has a point when he says that we can get out and start to enjoy our lives again. So thank you for your magnificent work. But what it also means is this is the time to really think local—shop local and support our local businesses. From Mount Eliza Village through to the Frankston CBD, the Seaford shops, Carrum Downs and across to the little shopping strips in Langwarrin, there are local businesses. They are our friends, our neighbours and our parents who have really been struggling, and they need our support. This is the time to jump on board the Dunkley shop local campaign—think local, shop local, keep supporting each other and we're looking good as we move towards Christmas.
I had a Zoom forum with local small businesses a few weeks ago to talk about where things were at. They've been struggling because of restrictions in Victoria and some of the issues with borders, domestic and international. Besides the restrictions being lifted, what was almost unanimously raised in the forum was concern about whether the measures in the federal budget were really going to be able to help our local small businesses. The instant asset tax write-off is okay if you have money to purchase capital equipment, but, if you have a small business that has been struggling and you have no money in the bank, it's not going to help you. It's the same with some of the policies such as guaranteed loans. I've been speaking to a lot of small businesses in my electorate who say they're just not in a position to take out a loan, even one that has some assistance from the government, because they don't have the cash flow. What is really concerning them is the cuts to the JobKeeper payment and the prospect of it being lifted entirely and too soon. So, it's the time to support our local businesses, but it's also the time for the federal government to support Victorian businesses. We have done magnificently well in the face of a cavalcade of negativity and abuse from the state opposition and the Victorian federal ministers in this place, who should know better. They should be supporting us, not criticising us. One of the things that the federal Treasury should be doing is looking at how to support our local small businesses to get through this time, particularly now that we're able to start some trading.
When we talk about manufacturing in Australia, what we need to do is be champions of the local manufacturing precincts. In Carrum Downs, in my electorate of Dunkley, the industrial precinct is thriving and is amazing. It is South-East Melbourne's fastest-growing employment hub, doubling in size every five years. Job growth in the precinct of Carrum Downs and parts of Seaford is over 13 times higher than the southern region average. We have smart, modern manufacturing. They are productive, sustainable and innovative. As the Committee for Greater Frankston has pointed out, you can really put the manufacturing into three categories in Carrum Downs and Seaford: niche second-stage food processing, new-age building products, and made-to-order manufacturing. We need the federal government, with its so-called manufacturing policy, to look at the businesses at Carrum Downs and Seaford and support them. The minister has said only $40 million of the $1.5 billion manufacturing fund is going to be available this financial year. We need a significant amount of money in our thriving, growing manufacturing industry so that we can be better than ever. I will be writing to the minister and pushing her to make sure we are forefront in her mind.
One of the positives to come out of the challenges resulting from the coronavirus pandemic has certainly been the groundswell of public support for local manufacturers and for buying Australian-made products. A Roy Morgan survey has found that 52 per cent of Australians have shown a higher preference for Australian-made products since the pandemic. Further, 43 per cent are more likely to look at the country-of-origin labels on the product. They're amazing statistics. It's timely that the Morrison-McCormack government invested a further $5 million into the international reach of the Australian Made logo.
The Australian Made logo is used by more than 2,800 businesses and is universally recognised by Australian consumers. It is a central element to the government's mandatory food-labelling laws. We want to increase the impact of the trusted symbol overseas so Australian exporters can grow and employ more Australians. The investment of that $5 million will allow the trademark to be registered and promoted in key export markets like the European Union, the United Kingdom and Canada, amongst others. There will also be an effort to crack down on the misuse of the logo, through a strengthening of its legal position in key export markets. Our government's $5 million investment will be provided over four years to the Australian Made Campaign Limited, which administers the logo. It delivers on an election commitment by the coalition government—as we have delivered on many.
Since being in this place, which is only a short time, I've been intensely interested in local manufacturing in my electorate of Cowper. There are some unbelievable, excellent, forward-thinking manufacturers in Cowper. One of them, which I visited a couple of months ago, is Express Coach Builders, who manufacture buses in Macksville. Another is Thompson Brushes, who manufacture different industrial brushes for street sweepers, road machinery, factories and construction sites. They're actually approved by the ADF to provide gun-cleaning brushes and grenade-launcher-cleaning brushes. And there is a family that I grew up with, the Keir family in Kempsey, who make the famous Akubra hats, right in the middle of my electorate.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the local manufacturers who export as well. Along with Thompson Brushes, there is Erskine Oral Care, based in Macksville, who manufacture and export Piksters, dental hygiene products. And there are a range of service providers exporting overseas, including the Coffs Harbour based fintech company XBert, who are selling a software app and service to accountants and businesses both here and overseas. I was with them a couple of weeks ago because they were the recipient of a $350,000 grant from our government's Accelerating Commercialisation program, to help them kick off their software app and to put two new employees on. They tell me that hopefully in the next 12 months they'll put on another six employees.
An honourable member: That's excellent.
It is excellent. When you visit these manufacturers and speak to the staff or browse their website, one thing which they all have in common is commitment to quality. Our local manufacturers pride themselves on producing high-quality, top-of-the-range products—products which stand the test of time and are backed with lengthy warranties. Take Express Coach Builders, for example. Each of its 75 staff hand-build each bus, coach or specialty vehicle that they make. On average, it takes about 14 weeks to produce a bus. It is our manufacturers' commitment to quality which I believe sets Australia apart. In conclusion, as we continue to deliver our economic recovery plan, and our economy and society reopen, it is more important than ever that we back our local manufacturers and support our Australian jobs.
I've been committed to buying locally made in Parramatta for a long time, and most of my community knows that. In fact, everything I'm wearing today was made locally in Parramatta. So, when I see a motion like this before the House, it makes me a little bit angry because it is so lightweight. Of course we should buy Australian made. Of course Australians care about that. They've cared about it for a long time. They are way ahead of the government on this. They've been there for years. Now we have a motion like this, but, when you look behind what this government is actually doing for business, it's all announcement and nothing else. There is no substance to these announcements at all. Let's have a look at them.
We've had the announcement in the budget of $1.5 billion for manufacturing, but Minister Andrews finally admitted on the Insiders program on Sunday that they'll be spending only $40 million of that this financial year. Between now and the end of July $40 million of that $1.5 billion will be spent—that's all. They've said in the budget that's $79 million, so they've been pretty upfront, except they won't even meet that target.
She also said that, in terms of grants, the biggest stream would be the collaboration stream. It is $800 million, and they'll give only 10 grants for that. That's really not going to drive Australian manufacturing, particularly as now is the time they need it. When JobKeeper cuts out at the end of March and JobSeeker goes back to $40 a day in December the money that is going to be sucked out of our local economies will be phenomenal. This is what the government has to replace it.
Let's look at what else we've got. Would you trust them to spend it anyway? If you look at previous spending and the funding program for small to medium enterprise export hubs, you see that 97 per cent of the first round went to Liberal or National seats just before the election. That wasn't about supporting business; it was about supporting Liberal members of parliament to be re-elected.
Let's look further. Let's look at the $2 billion R&D tax incentives. It sounds fantastic until you realise that there's a bill before the House right now that cuts $1.8 billion. The bill says that they're going to cut $1.8 billion. I assume that they've said, 'We're going to cut $1.8 billion,' and then said, 'No, we won't. It's $2 billion more.' It's not. If you're going to cut $1.8 billion, you don't get to brag about not doing it. You don't cause the problem and then brag and pretend that you're doing something new. There's no new money there. It's simply reversing a decision to cut it.
Let's look a little bit further. The six priority manufacturing areas announced by the government were in Labor's plan for 2013. The manufacturing task force report announced in the 2013 Plan for Australian Jobs has 13 key areas, including the six the government has now announced. But the government scrapped it and for seven years they did nothing. Now they're bragging about putting it back. Again there's no substance there at all.
There's this wonderful $5 million committed over the next four years to promote Australian Made and expand its reach overseas. I have to make the point that, with fragmented supply chains—and anybody who has been paying any attention whatsoever has known about this for quite a while—this is something this government should have been doing for a long time. Back in the Hawke-Keating era, when I was in the arts industry, Austrade spent $1 million recognising that the film industry supply chains had fragmented. It went overseas and promoted the skills of our workers in Australia. That's what drove the development of the Australian film industry, not the making of films in Australia but the use of our postproduction people and our skill base in Australia, because in fragmented supply chains in the services industry you have a 24-hour work day without overtime. You make the stuff during the day in the US and then you send it to Australia and they do the next bit. They then send it to the next time zone and they do the next bit.
All around the world in the services sector that is becoming more and more common. We have legal companies in India that use Australian back-end lawyers. Fragmented supply chains have been around for years now. They're coming with manufacturing because economies of scale are being replaced by economies of scope. I was giving lectures about this in the arts sector 25 years ago. This government has finally found $5 million to do something about it. Really? This motion belongs in another century. It's absolutely in the wrong century.
Since I have time, let's talk about JobMaker. Are there 450,000 jobs? No. The Treasury Fiscal Group deputy admitted in Senate estimates this morning it's 45,000 jobs. It's not 450,000 new jobs but 45,000 new jobs. It's all spin. There's nothing in this. It's outrageous.
It has been shown time and time again that the Australian character is all about helping your mates, whether that's a soldier on a battlefield helping someone who has been wounded, whether that's a firefighter travelling to another state to help put out fires or whether that's shopping for a quarantined neighbour—and we've seen during the COVID response great stories of the Australian community coming together.
Today I'd like to focus on another thing that we all know helps our fellow Australians—that is, buying Australian made. There's already been a massive increase in interest—we've probably seen it in our own communities—for Australian made. It's been reported that in fact monthly licence applications have increased fivefold, new licences being issued have doubled, monthly traffic to the Australian Made website has doubled and social media across all channels has tripled. A recent KPMG study also showed that if households around Australia spent an extra $50 a week focusing on buying Australian made goods, that would translate to a $30 billion boost to really help fuel our COVID recovery. It would also mean the addition of tens of thousands of jobs.
Australia has fared comparatively well when we look around the globe, in terms of COVID response. This is an opportunity for us to really capitalise on that by getting behind Australian manufacturers and helping them to launch into new overseas markets. That's exactly what the Morrison government is helping Australians to do, with a $5 million grant focused on extending the international reach of the Australian Made logo.
Already, around home, I think we'd all agree that the Australian Made logo is very recognisable. In fact, 99 per cent of consumers recognise what that means. Now it's about increasing the international potency of exactly that symbol. The logo's already registered in the United States, China, South Korea and Singapore, and proceedings are underway to register that logo in Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
I'm on the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade. Part of our terms of reference is to look at practical and policy measures where Australia can enhance our resilience. Certainly one of those ways is manufacturing. That is why the Morrison government is also manufacturing a new future for our nation through the $1.5 billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy. This strategy will create a manufacturing sector that is right for modern Australia's economy. It will help businesses to scale up and to become more resilient and more competitive. Indeed, manufacturing is critical to our modern economy and is a vital part of our response as we emerge out of COVID-19. There are six new National Manufacturing Priorities: resources; technology and critical minerals processing—extremely important to my home state of Western Australia; I note the member for Cowan and I'm certain that she agrees with me that mining and critical minerals—we're already very good at it in Western Australia and we know that we can get even better and more globally competitive. Then there's food and beverage; medical products; recycling and clean energy; and Defence, as well as space. Those are the National Manufacturing Priorities. Those priorities represent—
A division having been called in the House of Representatives—
Sitting suspended from 17:58 to 18:10
Those priority areas that the government has focused upon are there because they represent sectors where we have a comparative advantage, where we've got the capacity to harness emerging opportunities, all because there is a strategic imperative behind them. There are close to 900,000 people employed in our manufacturing sector—the seventh-largest employing industry in Australia. In fact, total field jobs in manufacturing increased by 36,400 over the 12 months to December 2019. Our manufacturing exports were worth close to $55 billion in 2019, up nine per cent on 2018.
Manufacturing looks very different to what it did a generation ago, but there is a huge amount of opportunity for success if we continue to modernise our approach to manufacturing. As we move into the recovery phase, as we come out the other side of coronavirus, it is important that we look for that Australian Made logo to back our local manufacturers and support Australian jobs.
Today I'm wearing a recycled silk top—which I got as a steal—by WA designer Flannel, and a silk skirt from their winter 2020 collection. My earrings are from a shop called Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves, which—
A division having been called in the House of Representatives
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I'm going to start again by saying that today I am wearing a recycled silk top by WA designer Flannel, which I got for a bargain price, and a silk skirt from their winter 2020 collection. My earrings are from a shop called Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves. It's in Hervey Bay and it's owned by my dear friends Damo and Amanda. Some might think that name is quite apt! My jacket is by KOOKAI and it was made in Australia. You might think it's a little bit frivolous to talk about fashion in the hallowed halls of parliament, but the point I am making here is not about the anaesthetics of fashion—which, of course, I am a very big fan of—but that the Australian fashion industry, whether it is in textiles, apparel, footwear or bags and accessories, is a growing industry and one that we should be speaking more about. I mean, apples and oranges are fun, but, let's face it, fashion is so much more fun!
The domestic market in Australia is at $28.5 billion a year, annual retail sales of fashion are at $21 billion a year, and employment in textiles, clothing, leather and footwear manufacturing is at around 37,000 people. In the UK, fashion is actually the largest creative industry. We have the potential in Australia to lead the world because we have sought-after designs and talented designers. We have iconic Australian brands that cater for different tastes, ages and budgets, including Zimmermann; Ellery; Manning Cartell; Maticevski; CAMILL; Billabong; Cotton On; Seafolly; sass and bide; Alex Perry; Academy; Nobody Denim; Romance Was Born; We are Kindred; Aje; Collette Dinnigan; Carla Zampatti; Realisation Par; Flannel, which is, of course, a WA brand; Dion Lee; Alice McCall; RM Williams, which is iconic; Tigerlily; and Steel Blue Boots, which has a factory in Cowan. And there are new and emerging designers like Thomas Puddick and jewellery designers like Mountain and Moon.
It is incredibly difficult for Australian designers to break into the market, both internationally and domestically. Since the 1980s, the textile industry in Australia has been decimated. My father was a textiles engineer. When we arrived over here from Egypt, he worked for Jennings, a famous women's underwear brand, for several years before he was made redundant and his line of work was no longer available in Australia. That's when he became a bus driver. Australians have sourced their fashion from overseas, where it is usually produced en masse and without any view to sustainability, but Australian designers are, by and large, ethical in their production and are transitioning into a circular textile economy. The Australian Fashion Council is an independent not-for-profit body. Their members are drawn from across the fashion and textile industries and include organisations and individuals as well. When they look at the industry—and I think they look at the industry in a great way—they view fashion as encompassing the entire spectrum of the value chain, from students to multinational companies, from shopping centres to fibre growers, from workwear companies to luxury goods, and from the product right through to the consumer. When viewed through that lens, fashion isn't just about aesthetics. It's not just about the earrings that I am wearing today. Let's not mention the shoes! They're flat shoes today—it's Monday! It's not just about those things; it is about an industry that spans across a range of sectors, and we should be supporting it more in Australia.
I'm disappointed that the Perth Fashion Festival was dissolved after going into administration and Telstra ending its support, but I note that the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, a global fashion event, will be celebrating its 25th anniversary next year. So, let's all get behind Australian fashion, because supporting Australian made means supporting our textiles, apparel, footwear and accessories industries. As they say on Project Runway, 'In fashion, one day you're in and the next day you're out!'
As we pivot from the health crisis to our economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more critical than ever before that we back our local manufacturers and support Australian jobs.
A division having been called in the House of Representatives—
Proceedings suspended from 18:44 to 19:33