Tuesday, 31 August 2021
Questions without Notice
COVID-19: Manufacturing Industry
[by video link] My question is to the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology. Will the minister update the House on why sticking with the Morrison government's national plan is essential to supporting Australian manufacturers to grow jobs and secure our recovery?
I thank the member for his question and his support for the manufacturing sector. There are 31,840 manufacturers across the member's home state of New South Wales. They're obviously doing it tough at the moment but showing enormous resilience. In fact, the resilience of the manufacturing sector as a whole throughout COVID is something that we as Australians can be very proud of. In the March quarter, manufacturing profits actually rose by 6.8 per cent, which is a remarkable result. In fact, they were 16 per cent higher over the year. But the manufacturers that I'm speaking to at the moment say they cannot cope with lockdowns forever, and they noted that they need continuity of access to two critical parts of their business. They need continuity of access to their critical and skilled workforce and to their markets. That's why we, the Morrison government, are supporting those manufacturers with a national plan and path out of lockdowns—because they need that access to their workforces and to their markets.
We're also backing manufacturers to grow and create jobs on the other side of COVID, with the $1.5 billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy across six manufacturing priorities. Recently, $50 million of investment was made in one of those priorities, which is minerals and resources technology. That sector, as we've heard today from several ministers, generates enormous wealth in Australia—$114 billion in revenue—and it supports 200,000 jobs. And, off the back of that resources sector, we have an opportunity for enormous growth in secondary manufacturing and expansion.
One great example is mining equipment. That industry alone, the equipment market for mining, is expected to generate worldwide revenue of US$165 billion by 2027. So that is an area that we think has potential for great growth in Australia, and I want to give an example to the House today. One of the recipients of the recent grants was Flip Screen Australia. They have designed screening buckets that can be attached to any skid-steer, excavator or loader, and, unlike what we would see on a normal front-end loader, they can actually screen contaminants out of the product. That's an innovation that started on the floor of a small hay shed in Mangoplah, and it will help grow Wagga Wagga into a regional manufacturing hub. Ten million dollars of investment will help this Australian company expand this world-leading product line and build a new heavy-steel fabrication facility so they can produce and export much larger versions of their product which are able to screen 3,000 tonnes of material per hour. What does this mean? It's a $35 million project, with 619 direct and indirect jobs over the first five years, and, with the partnership of the Riverina TAFE, it will train and upskill many workers in the regions.
So what our manufacturers are saying is that they need a clear, consistent, secure and known path out of lockdowns, and that will help them, with grants like this, to grow on the other side of COVID and produce a boom in this sector for our economy.