We must return to self-sufficiency

7 February, 2023

Deputy Speaker, I've been here since the Button plan and many other plans before it, and I wouldn't be so enthusiastic about Labor's plan for manufacturing in this country, from what I've seen before. I put to you that Australia is running away from its cheap and amazing fossil fuel reserves to run into renewable energy. Do you realise that, with renewable energy coming forth to support our manufacturing industry, the cost of power to those manufacturers has gone through the roof?

All you have to do is stand back and observe exactly what has happened over a long period of time with Australia's manufacturing being virtually shipped offshore to China. In the process of shipping it offshore to China, China's emissions have gone through the roof, although they collapsed a bit around the COVID exercise, when they closed down a lot of their manufacturing. Now we've got major supply chain issues that are affecting Australia directly. You'll be feeling them in every area of your activity. Just go to the shortages in prescription medicines right across this country at the moment and what the TGA are saying about paracetamol. They're going to reduce the number of pills because there are supply chain issues. They are everywhere. This is because we have become a country that is not self-sufficient in manufacturing, because we have closed our coal-fired power stations, to the point where we haven't got that base load of cheap power.

Victoria was built on the Latrobe Valley—I represent the Latrobe Valley—and it was built on the fact that we had that cheap energy that was able to fire up our manufacturing industries. What we have done now is moved the whole lot to another country. You say, 'But we're reducing our emissions.' Yes, but we've moved the manufacturing to another country where emissions are exploding—where they are opening coal-fired power stations by the dozen. We're moving our manufacturing to Vietnam, and we're moving our manufacturing to India.

The best example was the other day in the UK. One of their motor vehicle manufacturers is dropping 800 of their 1,600 employees so they can move their manufacturing to America, because America now has green subsidies. As for renewable energy in this country, if there were no subsidies, there would be no wind farms—not one. There wouldn't be one wind turbine in this country if there were no subsidies. If there had been no subsidies originally, there wouldn't have been the rooftop solar panels that we're talking about in this country. All renewable energy relies on government funding—in other words, your and my money. I look at the bigger picture. There was a very good article in the Australian today on electric vehicles and the truth around them right across the world, and I'll be speaking to that a bit later on in the House.

We've gone through, time and again and time and again, closures of power stations in the Latrobe Valley where a restructure plan comes in, governments put in billions of dollars each time and it seems to go nowhere. We finally get a manufacturing company that's going to come to the Latrobe Valley, and they're going to rebuild motor vehicles to have electric motors in Australia. We're going to have our own manufacturing plant right there in the Latrobe Valley. It's really exciting. The member that just spoke talked about the town of Collie and a whole lot of ideas which are perhaps good ideas but they are yet to come to fruition. We get this manufacturer down there, they get the subsidies, they get the support from the state government, they get the support from the local council, they get all the offers in the world, and they decide because of logistics it's probably better to do it in Dandenong, not the Latrobe Valley. So Latrobe Valley misses out again on that manufacturing opportunity.

An honourable member interjecting—

Mr BROADBENT: For lots of reasons. Companies decide what they're going to do, and they will decide to manufacture offshore if that's their best approach. That's what's happening in this country, in the UK and right across Europe. They are exporting their manufacturing to other countries whose emissions are going through the roof. And our emissions are diminishing, because we are losing all the manufacturing that once made this nation great. It gave opportunities for people to work. It fed families. And we're diminishing that. I don't know why we are kicking ourselves in the face.

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