Senate debates

Monday, 9 August 2021


COVID-19: Manufacturing

1:44 pm

Photo of Louise PrattLouise Pratt (WA, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Manufacturing) Share this | | Hansard source

The COVID pandemic has revealed many things about our nation, but central and very important is that Australia can and should be a nation that makes things, from vaccines to medicines, from value-adding to our mineral exports to PPE, batteries and so many more things that are embedded in the things that our nation has the capacity to make. But, after nearly a decade of this government, the National-Liberal government has ripped apart our manufacturing sector and tanked the complexity of our exports. Australia is the eighth-richest economy per capita in the world, but we rank a very low 86th for export complexity. This is an unsustainable economic position that won't last. Under this government's watch, the deindustrialisation of Australia's regions and suburbs has had devastating social and economic consequences, squandering growth and hollowing out Australia's economic capability. We desperately need to rethink how our economy is structured, and manufacturing should sit at the heart of that discussion.

Labor has a commitment to rebuilding, modernising and diversifying Australian manufacturing, and it should sit at the heart of our national development. We need to ensure our supplies of vital goods like food, medicines, water, communications, energy and PPE and that, in a national crisis, we can do this for ourselves. We also need to change what we make to suit a changing world.

Labor in government will support the transition to modernising for cleaner forms of energy and for affordable and reliable energy for all Australians. This means things like wind turbines, batteries and solar panels, not sending those skills overseas.