8 October 2014
Hunter Labor MPs have again called on the Abbott Liberal Government to support Australian shipbuilders at a public rally in Newcastle today.
The rally was held to coincide with the Senate Economics Reference Committee visit to Newcastle, where local shipbuilders, workers and industry groups have the opportunity to give evidence as part of an inquiry into Australia’s naval shipbuilding industry.
Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon said: “The Abbott Liberal Government clearly has no plan for Australian jobs or industry”.
“Newcastle has a long history of shipbuilding and has been central to the success of the industry in Australia for decades.
“Forgacs have been very upfront with the Government, warning that if they don’t outline their plan for the industry soon, they will be forced to close their doors and nearly 1,000 highly-skilled local men and women will be without a job by mid-2015.”
Pat Conroy, Member for Charlton said: “This is a critical issue facing workers and our community.”
“This Government has a shameful record when it comes to support for the manufacturing industry, and it is important that this inquiry hears from regions like ours about how the Government’s decision to send jobs overseas will impact on us.”
“As a maritime nation it is in our national interest to be able to build, maintain and repair naval ships here.”
The Senate inquiry has already found that the government made false claims when excluding Australian companies from tendering to build two naval ships. Defence Minister David Johnston claimed that Australian ship builders could not build the vessels.
“Construction of these vessels is simply beyond the industry”
Senator David Johnston, 16 June 2014
Yet submissions from Australian shipbuilding companies - including Newcastle’s Forgacs, unions, industry peak bodies and the South Australian State Government refuted this claim.
Jill Hall, Member for Shortland, said: “Australian shipbuilders are willing and able to do the work but the Abbott Government are turning away from them and sending jobs offshore.”
“When Tony Abbott said he’d create 1,000,000 jobs in five years we thought they would be in Australia, not overseas.”
Hunter Labor MPs played a key role in bringing the Senate Committee to Newcastle. All have participated in the parliamentary debate on the issue, including a Private Members’ Motion lodged and moved by Charlton MP Pat Conroy calling on the Federal Government to commit to additional naval shipbuilding contracts and this inquiry to take place.
The Senate Committee will hear evidence from a number of local organisations and representatives bodies including Forgacs, the Australian Manufacturers Workers’ Union, HunterNet, Australian Industry Group, Australian Manufacturing Council and Australian Business Defence Industry Unit.