House debates

Tuesday, 27 October 2020



7:45 pm

Photo of James StevensJames Stevens (Sturt, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It was a great pleasure to listen to Minister Karen Andrews give an address to this chamber at lunchtime today talking about the government's priorities to reinvigorate manufacturing in this country. I can't tell you how strongly I endorse, and am proud to be part of, a government that recognises the need for us to engage very directly in developing manufacturing and industry opportunities in this country for the jobs of the future.

Of course, I am a South Australian. The great Sir Thomas Playford is, I believe, the longest serving leader of a government in the history of the Westminster system—some 37 years as premier of the state of South Australia. He left an unbelievable legacy on my state through the manufacturing and industry that he developed during his tenure. He recognised the need to bring the inputs together, which in that era were cheap electricity, cheap labour—not because they were lowly paid but because cost of living was low, particularly the cost of housing. Soon after the Second World War, when there was an enormous opportunity to bring new migrants into the country, he brought all those factors together and we saw rapid development of manufacturing and industry in my home state of South Australia, which was also happening around the country.

One of the icons of that era in my home state was the automotive industry. Sadly, of course, that is no longer with us, but from the late 1940s right through until this millennium that was a significant part of the baseload of our economy, the manufacturing of our economy. Now we need to look to what the baseload will be into the future. Clearly I strongly endorse the priorities that the government have identified, the six pillars. I see huge opportunities in my electorate and my home state.

In particular I'd like to address food and value adding in food and food processing, and defence and space, which are some of the significant opportunities in South Australia. I'm lucky enough to have some fairly iconic food processors and manufacturers in my electorate. I've got the Robern Menz factory which produced the very famous, particularly in South Australia, FruChocs line of confectionery. They have also now brought back the Violet Crumble, which they are exporting to the United States. Thanks to a very significant grant from the Morrison government they are bringing back the Polly Waffle, which many will remember as it's such an iconic Australian confectionary, which I'm happy to say will or should be manufactured in my electorate of Sturt. It will not just be sold throughout this country, but, hopefully, exported around the world. It's famous more recently as being identified on Facebook as being Keith Urban's chocolate bar of choice.

I've got the Penfold's iconic Magill Estate in my electorate. Wine is one of those sectors that is not only an agricultural exploit and also transformational. It's an opportunity to dramatically value-add. Through this package we need to be investing in exactly the sorts of technologies and skills in our workforce that are going to see us bring more jobs in that sector, keep more jobs in that sector here in Australia in my home state of South Australia.

Defence has obviously been a massive priority of this government, particularly defence industry. Since the election of this government we've finally recognised—given the last government had no priority whatsoever in developing sovereign capability—particularly through the ship building decisions that we've made but many others, that defence is not just vital to our national security, but an enormous opportunity to build and develop sovereign capability. It is a significant industry to boot that can supply our own requirements for capability for our forces. We should be able to harness the opportunity to export to our allies the advanced manufacturing defence industry products that we produce in this country.

In my electorate of Sturt I have a business called Supashock, which started, not surprisingly given its name, as a manufacturer of shock absorbers. They still produce shock absorbers for the civilian and defence sectors, but they have dramatically expanded into so many other opportunities, often supported by government. They are an advanced manufacturer in my electorate that is exporting around the world.

These opportunities are just the tip of the iceberg for us. I think what was outlined today by the minister; the measures, equally, in the budget; the work that we've done prior to that; and clearly the renewed focus on this issue into the future are going to deliver enormous economic outcomes for this country and also give us a sovereign capability that we desperately need.