Senate debates

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Matters of Public Importance


6:10 pm

Photo of Bridget McKenzieBridget McKenzie (Victoria, National Party) Share this | Hansard source

There we go. Thank you, Senator, I'll take that interjection. What we want to see is advanced manufacturing grow and prosper in this country. Right now, 32 per cent of our manufacturing workforce is located in rural and regional areas. We want to see that workforce expanded. Industrial relations are sometimes an issue, as is the cost of electricity, which is one of the main input costs for manufacturing. Any break in the reliability of electricity supply can cost tens of thousands of dollars, even if electricity is off for only few seconds. That is the reality of running a manufacturing plant, whether it be in food or fibre, in mineral production or in defence manufacturing. That is a fact. I'm not making it up because of my ideology. It's science, and you can't selectively pick pieces of scientific knowledge to suit your ideological purposes.

If we want to grow manufacturing in this country, if we want people to be employed in regional Australia, we need to back sourcing cheap, reliable energy. That means doing things that we have promised to do, like assessing the cost-benefit analysis of a coal fired power station at Collinsville. It also means backing in expanding our gas market to ensure that our manufacturing industries have access to affordable and reliable power. It's that simple. We believe that this is the way forward, and it will have the additional benefit of lowering emissions. Right now, we import a lot of stuff from overseas that is not produced using renewable energy or gas. It's not produced using the beautiful high-calorific black coal of Central Queensland, but its production comes with very, very high emissions. If you were honest with yourselves and accepted the science, you would choose to support local manufacturing and not imports.

Out in the regions, we have a nearly $280 billion mining industry and a $60 billion agriculture industry. We want to be not just exporting raw product to the markets of the world but adding value at home to create highly sustainable, rewarding careers in the advanced manufacturing sector going forward. It's a big push in our budget, and I'm very, very proud to be part of a government that is backing in that part of our economy, because we've seen a significant decrease in manufacturing, from being nearly 30 per cent of our economy down to around five per cent. That's not a good thing. I want to see more manufacturing, as does everybody in the National Party.

Our emissions reduction strategy is focused on technology, not on taxes. We think we can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can support our community and our country to recover from COVID-19 through this budget, we can get people employed and we can also reduce emissions to fulfil our international targets. This is central to our ongoing economic recovery. A gas fired recovery is a key component of our JobMaker plan, while we are building a robust and competitive gas industry with lower prices and lower emissions, because gas will be a critical enabler of Australia's economy.

Our technology investment road map will guide the deployment of $18 billion of government investment between now and 2030, including through the CEC, ARENA, the Climate Solutions Fund and the Clean Energy Regulator. The road map will drive at least $50 billion worth of investment through the private sector, state governments, research institutions and publicly funded bodies, supporting 130,000 jobs. That is great news. As you can see, our side of the chamber is focused on supporting hardworking Australians, particularly those in our regions. We're focused on new technologies to create jobs and, at the same time, cutting emissions and power bills. You can do it all. It will be okay. You don't need to ruin people's lives and livelihoods to pursue your emissions reduction targets. The Nationals in government will continue to support mature technologies where there is clear market failure, like the shortage in dispatchable generation we are seeing at the moment.


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