Tuesday, 1 December 2020
Melissa McIntosh (Lindsay, Liberal Party) Share this | Link to this | Hansard source
Creating and sustaining local jobs is the key to our economic recovery plan. Businesses are the job creators of our economy. As we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic we are putting in place the policies that will enable businesses to do what they do best—delivering the high-quality products and services that they are known for and supporting local jobs. To do this and to lead our economic recovery businesses need affordable, reliable energy.
The Australian Energy Regulator's wholesale markets quarterly report confirmed that energy prices are continuing to fall under the Morrison government. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that retail electricity prices have fallen for seven straight quarters. Nationally prices have fallen 2.5 per cent through the year and 0.7 per cent in the last quarter.
We know that cheaper energy will help drive the economic recovery of many businesses. In Western Sydney we have such a strong manufacturing sector, with the capacity to respond from the pandemic and thrive. This Friday I'm delighted to be hosting an online forum with the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction. Businesses in Lindsay will hear directly about our plans to back them with affordable, reliable energy. It will be great to have many businesses, and I encourage Lindsay businesses to sign up for our forum and to get in touch with me. Listening directly to our local businesses and ensuring that they're across what is possible when it comes to energy is really key to tackling some of the challenges they face.
I am also really focused on the Western Sydney manufacturing sector and implementing the policies that will help them reach their aspirations. That is really important. I established the Advancing Manufacturing Taskforce in Western Sydney to make sure that we can connect with local manufacturers and connect with our local high school educators, TAFEs and universities. We are bringing everyone together to tackle these problems we have in the manufacturing sector and to ensure that we are backing our Australian manufacturers.
Our newest member of the task force is Mal from Baker & Provan. Baker & Provan is a family business based in my electorate of Lindsay. It has a proud history dating back to 1946. I visited their factory in St Marys and saw the incredible work they are doing from Australian sovereign defence capability to our rail industry. Baker & Provan are an outstanding Australian manufacturer. They're located in Western Sydney. They're creating local jobs and also supporting local apprentices. For Baker & Provan now and into the future we need to deliver affordable, reliable energy. Australia's manufacturing sector employs over 850,000 Australians. Their energy needs will continue to grow and expand this important industry.
Gas is also an important part of manufacturing. It is far broader than is typically acknowledged. It plays a pivotal role in the price of energy. Wholesale electricity prices are highly correlated with gas prices. The Morrison government is unlocking supply, strengthening gas infrastructure planning and delivering market reform to lower the price of gas, particularly contract prices for manufacturers and households. As the minister for energy has said, we want to see long-term domestic gas contracts be internationally competitive and support our manufacturing sector. That's what manufacturers are saying to me when I'm out speaking with them about energy prices, particularly for gas. This will ensure that there is sufficient new gas generation to power more businesses and manufacturers.
We're also investing in new technologies to complement gas as a key energy source. Custom Denning is another manufacturer in Western Sydney in my electorate of Lindsay. They're leading the way in emerging technology and are creating one of Australia's first designed and manufactured electric buses. Not only is this pioneering manufacturing taking place in our community with electric and hydrogen fuel cell powered buses but every single component that they can get is Australian made. As part of our $1.9 billion investment in new technologies, we're helping businesses like Custom Denning to get off the ground, employ local people, employ local apprentices and help us emerge from the coronavirus pandemic.