JIM CHALMERS MP
MEMBER FOR RANKIN
ED HUSIC MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR INDUSTRY AND INNOVATION
MEMBER FOR CHIFLEY
TUESDAY, 4 MAY 2021
SUBJECTS: Manufacturing and jobs; Labor’s National Reconstruction Fund; Morrison Government’s failures on vaccines and quarantine; The 2021 Budget; Australian citizens threatened with jail and fines for returning home from India; China relationship; Insurance in Northern Australia.
ED HUSIC, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INDUSTRY AND INNOVATION: Australian Labor is on the side of manufacturing. We know that manufacturing creates full time, secure employment, and great pay. And we want to be able to see companies grow, particularly post-pandemic, where we think that there's an opportunity to do a lot of manufacturing, right here in Australia, creating a lot of wealth for local companies, and a lot of good, great, secure jobs, long-term.
I'm here in Queensland today, visiting a number of great companies that, with the support of an active State government in this area, being able to generate products, exports, really solid work for people locally. And I was delighted to be able to join with the Shadow Treasurer, Jim Chalmers, here today with the Evolve Group, to see some of the stuff that's happening in advanced manufacturing, and to see the fact that we can be world leaders, if we have faith in the ideas of people. And also to back that, where we can, with support, to ensure that they can grow, that they can evolve themselves, form new product lines, and in that process too, keep being sustainable businesses longer-term.
Australian Labor has announced, in recent weeks, a National Reconstruction Fund that's focused on this. We also want to see a lot more work being done locally, especially around rail manufacture, that will see, again, a lot of work happen onshore, but we need State governments to work with federal governments on this. It's no use having federal governments make those funding facilities available, if we see State governments offshore so much work, and use someone else's product, and through the process, signal the lack of faith in Australian ideas, know how, and local jobs.
So, seeing what Evolve does here, using State government grants through the Palaszczuk government to grow, is a tremendously important thing. And we look forward, Australian Labor, to working with State governments that believe in manufacturing, believe in local jobs, and want to see the Australian economy grow as a result of that.
JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW TREASURER: It is terrific to have Ed Husic, the Shadow Minister for Industry, here in my local community in Queensland, talking with manufacturers and others about how we get this recovery to be the right kind of recovery for Australia.
The economy is emerging from the deepest, most-damaging recession in almost 100 years. The credit for this economic recovery belongs to employers like these, and to workers who've done the right thing by each other. They've innovated; they've changed the way they do things; they've held on to their workers; they've skilled them up. All of the things that we ask from the businesses and employers of this country, we've seen and heard about today.
Now, just because this recession could have been worse in Australia, doesn't mean the recovery can't be better. The economic recovery would be much stronger in Australia if Scott Morrison wasn't stuffing up the vaccines and quarantine. We'd have even more jobs created, if Josh Frydenberg wasn't stuffing-up the JobMaker Hiring Credits. The Budget would be in better condition, if it wasn't riddled with rorts and weighed-down with waste.
So, the Budget, when it's announced this time next week, can't be another missed opportunity to invest in people, and their jobs, and opportunities, and to invest in the future. Businesses and employers like this one are doing the right thing, and looking to the future, and working out how they can employ more people, and have more opportunities in more parts of Australia. We need the government to take that approach. Labor is on the side of those who want to employ people, so that people can work hard, and get ahead, and provide for their loved ones.
For too long in this country, we've had weak business investment, which has flowed through to weak wages and underemployment. We need to turn that around. The Budget's an opportunity to do that. The Budget next week can't be another missed opportunity, from a Government which is already eight years old, and by the time of the next election, will be asking for twelve years. We can't have more of the same. We need to have that partnering with businesses, like this one, to make sure that the recovery is as strong as possible.
JOURNALIST: Quite a few questions for you, Shadow Minister, on India and China?
CHALMERS: Of course.
JOURNALIST: So, would you like to see the travel ban end before May 15?
CHALMERS: Clearly the travel ban has been badly mishandled by the Government. It's characteristic of this government. They make the big announcement, in this case in the dead of night, they can't explain key aspects of it, and there's been a lot of anxiety created because of that. We have said for some time that not looking after Australians, in this case of Indian descent, and making sure that they can come home, that could be seen as unAustralian. It's no coincidence that people are so worried about this ban, when you consider that so many of these Australians were promised that they could get home before now.
Every single part of this debacle goes back to Scott Morrison's failures on vaccinations and quarantine. If Scott Morrison hadn't stuffed-up vaccinations and quarantine, many of these people would already be back by now and we wouldn't have this situation.
JOURNALIST: So, should we be seeing repatriation flights resume as a matter of urgency?
CHALMERS: Well, clearly, the Government should be considering all of these sorts of things. They need to fix the vaccine programme. They need to do more on quarantine. And they need to be considering how we meet our obligations to Australians, to get home from what is a very difficult place. It's a very concerning, very distressing situation in India. And there are a lot of people caught up in it. The Government has made people's anxiety worse, rather than better. The Government has a responsibility to step-up and do the right thing by Australians, who want nothing more than to get home safely.
JOURNALIST: So, are you concerned that the travel ban, like this one, might hurt Australia's relationship with India?
CHALMERS: Well, clearly, it hasn't helped. I mean, clearly, when you think about Australia's challenges in our region, when you think about the best way for Australia to manage its interests in the region, that's with a genuine and sincere relationship with the countries of the region, and this flies in the face of that.
JOURNALIST: On to China, if that's okay. Marise Payne has written an op-ed calling out debt-trap diplomacy. Are veiled messages the best way of managing our relationship with China?
CHALMERS: Well, our relationship with China has been mismanaged by the Morrison Government, our exporters pay a price for that and local jobs are at risk as well. What we say to Marise Payne about her op-ed, is that if we are serious about managing the relationships in our region, then we need open, and sincere conversations, with all of the countries of the region. And whether it's Australia's dealings under this Government with India, or with China, I don't think anybody would conclude that these relationships are being well managed.
I might also just say something about Northern Australia insurance, if I can. Today the Morrison Government has made yet another announcement when it comes to insurance in Northern Australia. This Government's been in office for eight long years now, and about to ask for twelve years. They've had review after review, announcement after announcement, but they haven't made a difference to insurance premiums in Northern Australia. It's been clear, for a really long time now, that this is a problem. Now the Government's announcement is that people will have to wait until after the next election to see anything done.
Doing something about a reinsurance pool is one thing, we need to be thinking about mitigation, we need to be thinking about retrofitting houses, we need to be thinking about a suite of measures which properly address this problem that we've had up there for so long with insurance premiums in parts of Australia that are particularly cyclone prone, and prone to other kinds of natural disaster.
We call on the Government to say precisely what the impact on premiums will be of this announcement that they made today. If they're unable to do that, if they're unable to address mitigation, and other types of action which is needed up there, then it will just be as exposed as yet another announcement, after yet another series of reviews, and not a fair dinkum attempt to get to the bottom of and fix this problem that everyone's been aware of for some time. Announcements won't cut it. We need to see action. We've only seen announcements for eight long years. And the people of North Queensland, in particular, have suffered from that inaction. Thanks very much.