House debates

Monday, 20 March 2023

Questions without Notice


2:37 pm

Photo of Lisa ChestersLisa Chesters (Bendigo, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government. How will AUKUS deliver jobs and infrastructure across regional Australia?

Photo of Ms Catherine KingMs Catherine King (Ballarat, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Bendigo very much for her question. There's a bit of rivalry between our two great cities, but, as residents of regional Australia, we both understand the role that the regions play in supporting our defence forces and the jobs and investments that can come with new defence procurement projects. Regions all across Australia are rightly very proud of the work that they do to support our nation's defence and our defence forces: Bushmasters made in Bendigo, tactical gear made in Townsville, small arms made in Lithgow and munitions made in Mulwala and Maryborough. Regional Australia is doing its share in providing our soldiers, sailors and aircrew with the materials that they need to keep our nation safe and secure.

With AUKUS, defence industries across Australia will have the opportunity to take part in the next generation of growth. This project will deliver the single biggest capability acquisition in our history. It is one of the great industrial endeavours of our age. There will be an estimated $30 billion invested in Australia's industrial base over the next 30 years, supporting Australia's supply chains and building the skills and capabilities to deliver these projects. We know that there are opportunities for South Australia, the home of Australian nuclear-powered submarine construction, and for Western Australia, but investment will not just be confined to these states. Nor will it to our cities: we know that our regions are set to benefit as well. By necessity it will be a whole-of-nation effort, delivering significant uplift to businesses and industries right across the nation. Its flow-on benefits will be immense, with new skills, new capabilities, new technologies and new opportunities, and we are determined that our regions will benefit from this as well. There will be opportunities for Australian industry to be a part of a trilateral endeavour and support the supply chains across all three partners here in Australia, in the United Kingdom and in the United States.

It is a significant and unique opportunity for jobs and skills right the way around Australia, creating 20,000 direct jobs over the next 30 years. We know that right now there are kids in schools across Australia who will have a long career—a long and productive career—in defence industries, including young people from our regions, thanks to the investment that we are making in our nation's security. We estimate that at least $6 billion will be invested in the Australian industry and workforce. It's a rare national opportunity. I know there are many, many businesses and industries across regional Australia that will be keeping an eye on this defence procurement. I am determined, as are all of the regional members in this place, I am sure, that our regions will have a share of what is a huge project and a huge opportunity for manufacturing and industries across regional Australia.