Monday, 22 February 2021
Private Members' Business
Australian Made Products
This week we started rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine to aged-care residents and frontline health workers. This is an important milestone for Australia as we continue our economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. It was also pleasing to hear this week that Australia's AAA credit rating has been reaffirmed by Fitch. Australia is just one of nine countries to hold a AAA credit rating from all three major credit rating agencies. But, despite these positive milestones, it's still vital that we continue 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 Gripske & Sons, both in Narangba, how important businesses like these are to the local economy. They create jobs locally as well as further afield through the 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 amongst the top tier of electorates in Queensland that are providing manufacturing employment opportunities.
It's not just 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 a few years ago with two goats on a 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's feta cheese, which can keep in a pantry for up to a year without spoiling. I've tried this amazing product and can testify: it is delicious. This innovative product is now being sold to a number of high-end restaurants as well IGA supermarkets.
The COVID pandemic also inspired Karen to invent a product called Luv Handles—not the type that I developed over Christmas!—which prevent shoppers from coming into direct contact with the handles on shopping baskets and trolleys. There's no doubt that COVID-19 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. Yet, despite these successes, Australia is still reliant on other countries for many products that could be produced locally.
Nine out of 10 Australians have said that they believe that 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. As the vaccine rolls out, it's vital that we keep Australian products at the forefront of our thinking.
Since the virus hit, 52 per cent of Australians have shown a high preference for Australian made products, and almost half of 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 of jobs. One of my main aspirations in government is to help create more jobs in Longman and reduce the unemployment rate.
This government understands the importance of local manufacturing and has a plan to help local businesses grow, become more resilient and boost global competitiveness. We have committed $5 million over the next four years to promote Australian made products overseas. The Australian Made logo is used by more than 2,800 businesses and is universally recognised by Australian consumers. It has a proven 34-year track record in promoting quality products, and we want to increase the impact of this trusted symbol overseas so our exporters can grow and employ more Australians.
The federal government's $1.5 billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy will also help to harness Australian manufacturing capability and drive our economic recovery and future resilience. Manufacturing is critical to a modern Australian economy and a vital part of our plan as we emerge from the global COVID-19 pandemic. It is key to almost every supply chain and adds value across all sectors. This strategy recognises that we must play to our strengths and target sectors that allow us to achieve scale and generate future growth. Investments by the Morrison government to support Australian made products and manufacturers will place Australia as a world leader. Our support of the Go Local First campaign is also a positive investment into our local businesses.
Local businesses are the backbone of our communities. When they are going strong, the whole economy and community benefit. As Australia comes through this global pandemic, it's more important than ever to continue supporting Australian made products and our local businesses.
I too rise to recognise the longevity and success of the worldwide renowned Australian Made, Australian Grown logo. Without a doubt, it's Australia's most trusted, most recognised and most widely used country-of-origin symbol. Today it is used to brand not only Australian made products but also Australian produce, seafood and many other things. It's used by more than 2,600 businesses on over 16,000 products that are sold in Australia and exported to markets around the world. It almost has a 100 per cent consumer recognition rate. That is a true mark of success.
What breaks my heart is the fact that we are making fewer and fewer things here in Australia. In the 1950s, manufacturing accounted for 29 per cent of Australia's GDP, more than a quarter. Forty years on, reduced by global economic changes and government policies, manufacturing accounts for less than 10 per cent of Australian GDP, the lowest level since the early colonial times. In a great blow to our country and our workers, in 2017, car manufacturing ceased in Australia with the closure of the Adelaide Holden plant and other plants around the country. These capabilities and skills, once lost, are very difficult to rebuild.
As the Leader of the Opposition stated in his budget reply speech:
Australia is at a crossroad. It's not of our choosing, but the choices we make could change everything. This is an opportunity to reset and renew.
… I want a country that makes things and that creates wealth and shares it.
We want a future made in Australia, with a focus on building local manufacturing and local products, value-adding to our products and selling to the world. We are still in the middle of the worst health and economic crisis that we've ever witnessed in our lifetimes. This will give us the chance to reset. It will be a waste of what Australia has to offer if we remain the last link in a worldwide supply chain.
We have all the ingredients—the skills, the smarts, the people and the industry—to make things right here, sell them on a global market and create jobs, local jobs, for people here in Australia. But the ingredient that is missing is the will from governments to grow our manufacturing industry. We need a government that's willing to mobilise resources, we need a strong job-creation strategy and we need to produce more products with that stamp and that label, which is an approval for most Australians, who are more likely to buy a product with the Australian Made logo on it. That's because it offers security—it offers a product where you know that it's been made here, that the money that's spent on it remains in the country—and it produces jobs, one of the most important things that we as legislators can do to benefit the economy of this nation. So we need a good strong job-creation strategy, and we need to train and skill our population so we can be at the cutting edge of making things.
With many of the products that you see on the supermarket shelves—food products, for example—when you see that logo, it gives you the confidence that that product has come under the standards of our country, standards which are very high, compared to many other nations, and it gives people the confidence to buy that product and confidently know what products have been used in it. It is a great logo; it's a logo that we don't want to lose. We just want to see more products getting that stamp of approval as an Australian-made product.
I would go a step further and actually introduce a logo for perhaps a service in Australia as well. We have different service industries that are offshoring a lot of their service work. For example, banks, insurance companies and even accountants are sending their auditing work overseas to places like Hong Kong, Singapore, China and a whole range of places. Why not have a logo as well for 'serviced in Australia', so people, when they're signing their contract with their insurance company, their bank or another service industry, know that the work that will be done on their product they've just purchased will be done here in Australia? They'll have the confidence, just as we have the confidence when we buy a product and we know exactly what's in it.
So I support this motion. I think all of us should be doing absolutely everything we can to get more products with this logo on it.
It hasn't been an easy 12 months for many of us living across the north-west, the West Coast and King Island. Our region has been challenged like never before. This has been the first time for many of us in experiencing a global crisis on this scale. Right across Australia, governments are managing both a health pandemic and an economic challenge, and I want to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate the Tasmanian government for working with the Morrison government to keep Tasmanians safe and to minimise the financial impacts on families and businesses.
There is a lot, of course, to be done. It's easy to feel that, as an individual, we can't do much to help the nation rebound. Well, my message today is that there definitely is something we can do. No matter where you live in the electorate of Braddon—whether it's in the local government area of Burnie, Central Coast, Circular Head, Devonport, Latrobe, Waratah-Wynyard or West Coast—what we do, day in day out, has a huge impact on the speed in which we will recover and return to our treasured way of life.
With regard to the health crisis, it's about sticking to a plan, because the plan is working. People living in Braddon know as well as anybody what it means to be locked down. In fact, in April, we experienced the nation's first community lockdown, and I couldn't have been prouder of how our region responded. The rest of the nation looked on at how our government and our wonderful communities dealt with the crisis, and what that did for people in the region was incredible.
With regards to building our economy, it is about doing what we do best, and that is supporting locals and supporting local businesses. Why should we? Well, the North West, the West Coast and King Island produce pretty much everything you could ever want to buy. I read an interesting article the other day that said that, if every household spent $50 a week buying Australian made goods rather than buying the equivalent item produced overseas, this would mean an extra $30 billion to boost our economy. What's more, if everyone spent just $50 a week buying local items, thousands of jobs would be created right across regions like my own. Another study found that, if every Australian committed to spend $100 just once-off, a one-off purchase, and bought something that was locally made, this would create up to 3,000 jobs.
At a time when many Australians feel the economic recovery is out of their control, it is an incredibly powerful reminder of the importance of buying local. What is also exciting is the fact that you don't need to spend more. I know that many across the region still are doing it tough and that money is tight. All we need to do is to keep a look out for locally produced products, something that's grown in our region—or in the state of Tasmania in my case. If you can't find that, look for an Australian-grown product and, if it's comparable, then think about buying that instead of an overseas manufactured good. That's where the Australian Made, Australian Grown logo is important. This logo is Australia's only registered country-of-origin certification trademark. If you see it, you know it's 100 per cent Australian and you're buying authentic, premium quality Australian products that originate in our clean, green environment and meet the very strict Australian standards. So keep a look out for that symbol.
During the last year, many people, more than ever, moved to the top line of shopping. For years, online shopping meant that buying items from overseas was probably the norm; however, that is no longer the case. There are now dozens of online stores that are selling locally grown produce that's conveniently delivered to your door, including Tasmanian Shop, Shop Tasmania, Product of Tasmania, Tasmanian Gourmet Online, Buy Something Tasmanian, Buy from Tasmania—and the list goes on. Tasmania has become the first state in Australia to launch a dedicated Tasmanian-brand store on amazon.com.au. This will provide yet another way for our local producers to expand their businesses and their sales on the mainland and will enable more Tasmanian companies to enter the online retail trail.
So keep up the great work, everybody, and shop local. We all know that Tasmania is the envy of Australia when it comes to producing food. So keep it up and keep it local. I congratulate the Buy Local Campaign, a terrific campaign that's having results on the ground.
In my electorate of Paterson we're proud of our local manufacturing industry and our Australian made products. Indeed, manufacturing is in our very DNA. But, like all industries, manufacturing must be nurtured and supported. It must be protected by government having good policy surrounding it if it is to continue to deliver its Australian made stamp. Australian products are so critical to our economy. That's not been more obvious than in this time of pandemic that we've endured. We must ensure that manufacturing jobs are secure for now and into the future. We should continue to enjoy the pride of having Australian made products available to us.
I want to share a little bit about my home town. It is a cautionary tale regarding local manufacturing loss. Kurri Kurri, where I was born and live, once housed the mighty Kurri Kurri Alcan aluminium smelter that later became Hydro. At its peak, the smelter employed 892 people and injected over $25 million in wages in our region each year. The Kurri Kurri smelter, over its life, would go on to expand its production capacity to 180,000 tonnes of primary aluminium per year. The product was in high demand for years and, sadly, in 2012 we lost the smelter when Norsk Hydro announced its intention to close it, citing an uncertain economic outlook. I raise the example of the Kurri Kurri aluminium smelter because it serves as the perfect case study for the value and the strength of regional manufacturing and the consequences to an economy and a town when the jobs are lost. The Kurri community is still, to this day, feeling the impacts of its closure. They were a small town with a successful product. I know because we celebrated the life and passing of my Uncle Paul Innes last Friday, who worked there for many years after he finished being a vegetable farmer because of flooding and difficulties on the land. He and his sons went to work at that smelter, and many of my relatives and friends worked at that smelter until its closure. I know their stories all too well.
That is why it is so important that governments support manufacturing jobs, because they are so vital, not just to small towns but to all towns and all economies. Under this government's watch we've lost Holden—an iconic Australian brand that produced a fantastic product. Those opposite have failed to realise that, when companies like Holden disappear, they take more than just jobs with them. What we lose is a highly skilled workforce with corporate knowledge of an industry and its products. Once these manufacturers fall, we lose the quality of Australian-made products. Most importantly, we can't afford these skills, knowledge and potential to be lost forever. We can't afford to lose local products.
Australians have lost more than just Holden cars. Many manufacturers have taken their products overseas or off our shelves entirely. We've lost companies like Ansell, Goodyear tyres and even the Pacific Brands clothing, famous for such brands as Bonds—Chesty Bonds, no less—Volley shoes, Hard Yakka, Sheridan, and many more. We've even lost some of our international heavyweights in manufacturing, like Bridgestone tyres, Sidchrome tools, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan, Toyota and Electrolux ovens and refrigerators. Once proud Australian-made products are gone forever. The seat of Paterson produces many excellent Australian products from each end of the spectrum. We make wine, milk, chocolate and cheese. We produce aluminium, hand sanitiser and cleaning products. We even build machinery for mining, transport and construction. We have some amazing manufacturers, like Mortels, who make the famous Ugg boots and many more products. We have Jurox, Ampcontrol, WesTrac Caterpillar—just to name a few. Last year, I worked closely with the Whiteley Corporation, who make many important cleaning products. Thank you, Whitely Corporation—you kept the hospitals clean in Australia during our most serious pandemic.
I rise to support Australian industry, particularly locally-made and locally-owned goods. Of course, I'm not a protectionist and I believe Australian goods must compete internationally. Indeed, it is the weight of competition that, when lifted repeatedly, grows strength in our products and expands our capacity as a producing nation. However, as a nation we should encourage consumers and businesses alike to look first at products made locally and, if they meet their requirements, then consider strongly the Australian-made tag as an important criteria for their purchase decision. This is an easy decision to make as Australian-made goods invariably position favourably on issues of quality and reliability. There has never been a better time in our history to buy local, and the Australian Made and Australian Grown logos have endured the test of 30 years. The message is timeless and, in these challenging times, it becomes even more important as our economy recovers from the COVID pandemic and the Australian people have rediscovered a desire to be more self-reliant. As a nation, we've come together on this issue as we seek to support our fellow Australians.
In my electorate of Groom, which is covered by the Toowoomba region, we have some tremendous businesses producing world-class products. These range from cottage industries through to a business selling construction equipment to mining companies around the whole world.
On the micro side, the Buy from the Bush Queensland initiative started in mid-2018 as a Facebook page for women doing it tough on the land and has since blossomed into an online community of bush businesses, creatives and a broad array of family-run side-hustles across the rural regions of Queensland. Kerri Brennan, a Darling Downs cattle producer based an hour south of Toowoomba, saw the need to support the family farm. Little did she know how much she would be supporting so many others just like her. And I join the long queue of those who wish to express their thanks.
During the toughest years of the drought this site began, and it now links over 1,000 small businesses with 20,000 Facebook followers. That is 1,000 locally-owned businesses, ranging from the Bonny Little Babes from Pittsworth, producing fabrics and children's clothing, through to Chain of Hearts of Highfields, who produce creative, custom-made invitations, wedding stationery, framed artwork and prints. These Australian made products can be accessed through their innovative and thoughtful social media platform, and Buy from the Bush Queensland are looking for support. If you are looking to support rural businesses, as we all have been during this tough time, please visit their website. I encourage you to do so.
We, as a government, are committed to supporting business growth, job creation and sovereign manufacturing, through the Morrison government's $1.3 billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy. This initiative is all about backing our manufacturers to improve their competitiveness and scale them up to compete on the world stage while growing jobs for Australians here at home. This is great news for the many manufacturers in the Toowoomba region. The Toowoomba region has a proud manufacturing and technology-hub background, and this initiative has the power to advance even further our local manufacturing sector.
With the help of the Australian government, through an Accelerating Commercialisation grant, a locally owned Toowoomba region business is now, for the first time, tendering for the manufacture of drilling equipment for Santos. Accelerating Commercialisation provides small and medium businesses, entrepreneurs and researchers with access to expert advice and the funding to help them to get a novel product, process or service to market. In this case, the grant allowed Obadare to move their drilling equipment designs from concept to production-ready. In this tender, they will be competing only with overseas companies because they are now the only Australian based company that holds an American Petroleum Institute 4F licence. Obadare are taking the Australian made and Australian owned message to the world, and I certainly wish them well.
Sovereign manufacturing is a key element of the Morrison government's road map to economic recovery, and, whilst it is clear from the evidence around us that the recovery is underway and the comeback is on, there is still much work to do. I strongly endorse the entrance of a locally owned Australian business into the advanced manufacturing market of drilling equipment. I'm also heartened that, as a government, we support this locally owned Australian company in its endeavours and commend them for their drive, vision and ambition. From the smallest Australian made products to the largest, I'm proud to be a part of a government that is supporting Australian manufacturing jobs. Australian made and Australia owned mean more jobs and investment right here where we need them.