Senate debates

Wednesday, 3 July 2024

Statements by Senators

James Boag Brewery, Future Made in Australia

12:15 pm

Photo of Helen PolleyHelen Polley (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise this afternoon to speak about an iconic part of my duty constituency of Bass and an iconic part of my life in northern Tasmania, and that is Boag's brewery. It's the best one in Tasmania—no offence to my Senate colleagues Bilyk, Brown, McKim, Chandler and Duniam. I learned last week that unfortunately 15 jobs at Boag's will be lost to the mainland due to production outsourcing. If a mainlander buys a Boag's product in the future, no longer will it have been brewed in Tasmania; it will have instead been brewed on the mainland.

In January 2023, the Tasmanian Liberal government gave Boag's $1 million to expand its production, but they are now just standing by idly as Boag's brewery makes the decision to cut costs and to outsource production to the mainland, except for the beer that is consumed in Tasmania, which will still be brewed there. At the moment there are only 15 jobs being lost, but that's going to have a huge impact on the economy in northern Tasmania. This is really a crying shame for Tasmania and for those Tasmanian workers. The Tasmanian Liberal government have a lot to explain. What does this mean for the future of Boag's? This $1 million that was provided to Boag's, or to the Lion group, was extraordinary at that time. There were no ties to that money. Keeping production in Launceston could have surely been tied to that $1 million. It's a crying shame and a shame on the Tasmanian state Liberal government.

In stark contrast, the Albanese Labor government is committed to supporting Australian jobs and manufacturing. Today we will be introducing our $22.7 billion Future Made in Australia plan, which will bring our manufacturing sector back after a decade of neglect from the Liberals and Nationals, those opposite, who stood by and destroyed manufacturing here in Australia. We are absolutely committed to ensuring that our manufacturing sector is safeguarded, that our renewable energy targets for the manufacturing sector are met and that demand for our exports is increased.

One of the first steps to achieve this goal is happening today. The Future Made in Australia Bill 2024 is being introduced in the other place today, through which the national interest framework will be legislated. The introduction of the Future Made in Australia Bill also provides an outline for the community-benefit principles that will apply to investment decisions in the Australian manufacturing sector. The $22.7 billion that the Albanese Labor government is prepared to invest into the Australian manufacturing sector is in no way a small amount of money, but we believe it's something that is crucial for Australia. We are 100 per cent dedicated to restoring our manufacturing sector.

Frankly, those opposite ought to be ashamed that they stood by idly and let one company after another, one sector after another, leave our shores. It's our duty as Australian parliamentarians to ensure that our sovereign manufacturing capabilities are upheld, and those opposite failed Australia on that front. So many of those opposite claimed to be devout supporters of the Australian Made campaign, yet they did nothing. They never stood up for Australian workers. They never stood up for the Australian manufacturing sector when it mattered most.

We have so much talent here in Australia. We want to ensure that those responsible for organisations who invest in our economy are acknowledged and well respected. The Albanese Labor government want to ensure that Australia is put back on the international map when it comes to manufacturing. We are dedicated to attracting security and investment, making Australia a renewable energy superpower, adding value to our resources, strengthening our economic security and backing Australian innovation. I repeat: backing Australia's innovation. That is so important for our future going forward.

In my duty electorate of Bass in northern Tasmania we have numerous manufacturing organisations that dream of being put on the international map, and the Albanese Labor government is making that happen. We are reforming investment settings. We want international investors to come knocking at our door. We want single points of contact for investors and for companies with major investment proposals. To ensure Australians are delivered with the most beneficial projects that they can be, we want projects of high priority to be more easily identified in the future.

Part of restoring Australia's sovereign manufacturing capabilities includes incorporating our net zero and renewable energy targets. There was no clearer demonstration of the former government's failing than when we went through the COVID pandemic, but through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency we will invest $3.2 billion over the next decade to support the commercialisation of technologies that are critical to the net zero transformation. The new $1.7 billion Future Made in Australia Innovation Fund will fund the implementation of innovation in technologies, facilitating those links that bring those industries together. It will have support and leadership from our government. As we announced recently, we're also investing $466.4 million in building quantum computing capabilities, in partnership with the Queensland government and PsiQuantum.

As a government, our primary concern is ensuring that Australia's population is looked after. We also want to ensure that we make a sound contribution to the global market and that our exports are sought after. The concerns I expressed about Boag's Brewery are just another symptom of a decade of neglect from the Liberals and the Nationals. You cannot claim to be a supporter of the Australian Made campaign and of increasing our sovereign production capabilities when you continually show a lack of support for incentivising sovereign manufacturing.

The Albanese Labor government is here to support Australian workers, Australian manufacturing and the sector. We want to see the return of other countries seeking out our products and increases in our export capabilities. I want to acknowledge the work of Senator Don Farrell as Minister for Trade and Tourism and acknowledge what he has been able to do in the last two years to re-engage in the international markets, particularly when it comes to China. Those opposite did untold damage to our major trading partners, and China, as we all know, is so significant to Australia in terms of our export markets.

Of course, going forward we will always sell our raw materials, but our priority should be to invest so that we actually get all those downstream processing and manufacturing jobs here in Australia. Let's not forget the investment that this Labor government has made in TAFE. It has given fee-free TAFE to the sectors where we need will workers in the future. That's a government that is actually showing real leadership in this area. We believe in our Australian workers. That's why we've always increased wages and supported wage rises. It's why we believe strongly in superannuation. On 1 July there will be an increase for lower-paid Australian workers. We invest in our workforce and, very importantly, we invest in TAFE because we believe that a highly skilled workforce will result in higher paid, more secure jobs in the future.

I hope that those in this Senate chamber, when this bill comes from the other place into this chamber, will not only make a positive contribution during that debate but support that bill, because that bill is a vote of support for the future of the Australian workforce and, importantly, the Australian economy.