Building modern coal-fired power stations and funding exploration to help unlock oil reserves are among the recommendations in a plan released by National Party MPs to boost Australian manufacturing.
The National Party’s Backbench Policy Committee released the Manufacturing 2035 document, featuring a nine-point plan with the goal to double the employment in Australian manufacturing.
It came as employment in manufacturing dropped from its peak employment of almost 1.2 million Australians in the 1990s to a new record low of fewer than 850,000, committee chair Senator Matthew Canavan said.
“We must take radical action to reverse the trend in fewer things being made in Australia,” Senator Canavan said.
“That means reinvesting in our natural energy resources like coal and gas, protecting Australian jobs from unfair overseas competition and giving greater preference to Australian made goods in government contracts.”
The paper highlights high energy costs as a major barrier to Australian manufacturing strength over the past decade.
“Australia needs to build modern coal fired power stations to help manufacturing industries. That is why the Nationals Party backs the delivery of a coal fired power station at Collinsville in North Queensland. But more will need to be built, ” the paper states.
It argues the case for a new coal-fired power plant in the Hunter Valley as well, and the need to expand oil and gas production in the Beetaloo Basin in the Northern Territory and in Western Australia to support manufacturing industries there.
Manufacturing 2035 also calls for the Australian Government to boost funding of the Exploring for the Future program by $250 million to specifically target oil reserves.
Other policies suggested in the plan include:
- Establish an Office of Regional Manufacturing with offices in Gladstone and Newcastle to promote manufacturing opportunities in Regional Australia,
- Task the Anti-Dumping Commission to assess subsidies provided by foreign governments and taking countervailing action to protect Australian industry against such unfair competition,
- Provide tax concessions and low cost-finance to investments that will boost Australian manufacturing jobs,
- Introduce a Buy Australian Act that would give preference to Australian-made goods in government contracts, and
- Increase trade promotion and harmonising skills across the manufacturing sector.
The Nationals Backbench Committee has presented its report to the Nationals leadership.
“The Morrison-McCormack Government has made manufacturing a key priority and we hope this plan can build on the excellent work already being done by the government in this area,” Senator Canavan said.