Look, manufacturing is absolutely vital.
That is something that Labor has been saying for a long period of time. It wasn’t just discovered this week before a budget. Kevin Rudd, when he was PM, said that he wanted a country that made things, and one of the things that we did on infrastructure, for example, when I was the minister, we went from 20th in the OECD when we came to office to first in terms of environment as a proportion of the national economy.
What we did was make sure that there were people getting apprenticeships and training, including four Firs Nations people, on projects that we funded as part of the funding principles.
With made sure that we used local supplies, and one of the things that I spoke about was about using the power of government purchasing to actually drive job creation here in manufacturing in this country.
There is some real low-handing fruit. A national rail manufacturing plan, for example, producing carriages here – rather than overseas, that don’t actually fit the lines – or buying ferries overseas where people get decapitated if they are on the top deck, would be a good idea.
We should make things here. There is a whole range of new products that we can make here as well.
We have everything that goes into a battery. We have lithium and all of those rare earths, the second-largest deposit of rare earths in the world. We should be using that to produce batteries, to produce solar panel, to produce more things here.
We need to be more self-reliant when it comes to pharmaceuticals and medical products here as well. There is a range of things that could be produced here. We should be doing it.
We should be making sure that we are more self-reliant in the future because it is about creating jobs, but it is also about creating a future for this country.