Thursday, 5 March 2015
Tonight I would briefly like to speak about manufacturing in Australia. Today the Parliamentary Friends of Manufacturing hosted a breakfast for Manufacturing Australia, and we had some of Australia's leading manufacturers in attendance. They were at pains to express to us at the breakfast the positive message about Australian manufacturing and food processing and the social, economic and environmental benefits that they bring to our country. They told us about the trades, the skills and the prosperity and the fact that Australian manufacturing is not on its knees, so to speak, but makes a very vital contribution to Australia. It employs five times the number of people that the mining industry does in Australia.
It was also heartening to hear Capral aluminium speak about the work of the Australian Anti-Dumping Commission, the ADC, and the fact that they have acted—a step in the right direction—on aluminium that has been dumped in this country by China. That should be acknowledged. But they also said today that we need to ensure fair trading conditions in Australia through a strong antidumping regime; that Australian standards legislation should be applied to imported manufactured products as it is applied to products made in Australia; and that we need to work towards enhancing the competitive advantage of Australian industry and not allow other countries to benefit at our expense through us supplying them with cheap energy at the expense of our manufacturers and food processors.
On 29 May, we will be hosting the next Australian Manufacturing and Farming Program industry showcase at the Wodonga TAFE college. Companies such as the Wilson Transformer Company from Wodonga will be there. They make a world-class product. They pay WorkCover. They pay superannuation. They provide a safe workplace. They do not consume people to make their product, unlike some of their foreign competitors. The list goes on in the Albury-Wodonga region of the valuable contribution that Australian manufacturing makes, from the world-class forging of Overall Forge, to the Apex Tool Group and the famous Lufkin tapes and to Seeley International, with Braemar hot water services and air-conditioning units.
Also this week we have had the announcement that in a few months time, later this year, we are going to have a 'manufacturing meets parliament' exhibition, similar to Science meets Parliament. I would encourage all of my fellow senators in this place to visit this to see the valuable contribution that manufacturing makes to our country and the fact that Australian industry is at the cutting edge—and to have more empathy with our manufacturers and our food processors and the valuable contribution that they make to jobs, skills and the prosperity of our nation.