SUPPORTIVE: Keppel MP Brittany Lauga and Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke have worked hard to see the Manufacturing Hub realised.
SUPPORTIVE: Keppel MP Brittany Lauga and Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke have worked hard to see the Manufacturing Hub realised. Steph Allen

Labor's $10 million plan to boost local manufacturing

JUST in time for Christmas, the Queensland Government has a gift for the people CQ - a $10 million hub to power up the region's manufacturing businesses.

The Morning Bulletin can exclusively reveal details set to be officially announced today regarding the boost to CQ's manufacturing sector, which contributes more than one billion dollars to the state's economy annually and represents 5.7 per cent of all industry employment in the region.

Early next year, the Queensland Government will team up with Rockhampton's Central Queensland University to establish a manufacturing hub to support CQ's 250 small-to-medium local manufacturers become more productive and grow their businesses.

Based at CQUniversity's North Rockhampton campus, the hub will use existing infrastructure act as a central central coordination point, focused on supporting and expanding existing manufacturing businesses, allowing them to create more jobs and increase their global competitiveness.

The Queensland Government said the $10 million was an investment over three years for industry.

Hubs will be staffed by a hub coordinator, a skills development and training officer, and a project support officer with recruitment for these positions beginning soon, to plan for the opening of the hubs in early 2019.

The establishment of a manufacturing hub was one of Labor's promises going into last year's state election and throughout the past year, Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke and Keppel MP Brittany Lauga have worked with their ministerial colleagues to see the initiative become a reality.

Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick said his government committed to establishing manufacturing hubs in regional areas to drive the important sector while bolstering local economies.

He said the hub would provide a place for local manufacturing businesses to receive expert advice, easy access to business development programs, skills and training and support around how they can expand.

"My department has consulted with local businesses, local governments, unions and educational institutions to develop the best model for the Rockhampton region," Mr Dick said

"This hub will provide a catalyst to promote and deliver world-leading technologies, processes and practices to manufacturers in the region and attract increased private sector investment and jobs to Central Queensland.

"It will support manufacturers to develop strong links with local universities and schools to develop a workforce with strong skills in science, technology, engineering and maths."

Teys Australia general manager and member of the Manufacturing Ministerial Committee, Wasantha Mudannayake said food manufacturing accounted for almost half of the manufacturing sub-sector by employment in the Rockhampton Local Government Area.

"I am delighted to be part of the hub to raise industry capability and grow the region's local manufacturing businesses," Mr Mudannayake said.

Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke said the hub would support joint projects to strengthen key manufacturing sectors in the region, which in turn would create and sustains jobs, generate industry opportunities and bolster the local economy.

"The hub, in partnership with local industry and the Centre for Railway Engineering at Central Queensland University, will encourage innovation into the rail freight sector through advanced manufacturing," Mr O'Rourke said.

"It will also develop capability throughout the supply chain, for local businesses and suppliers to the rail industry."

Keppel MP Brittany Lauga said the hub would assist food and metal producers to improve efficiencies in their business models, demonstrate the latest state-of-the-art technology, and assist with workforce development and training.

"The Central Queensland manufacturing hub will ensure the region's manufacturing sector continues to thrive well into the future, supported by the skills, networks and jobs it needs to strengthen and evolve to meet market and industry demands," Mrs Lauga said.

"I have been fighting hard to state the case for this manufacturing hub for our region, including meeting with a number of government representatives and others to ensure this important project got off the ground in Central Queensland, so it is fantastic to see the hub coming to fruition thanks to the commitment of our government to make it so."

Minister for Training and Skills Development Shannon Fentiman said this new hub will be a valuable asset to the Rockhampton region with CQU TAFE providing world class training to ensure we had the skilled workforce necessary to drive the future of manufacturing.

Mr Dick said the Queensland Government was also investing $10 million in Townsville and $10 million in Cairns to establish manufacturing hubs.

"Queensland's manufacturing sector is worth $20 billion each year to the state economy and employs around 179,000 people," he said.

"Manufacturing in Queensland is diverse, with the top five employing sub-sectors being food product manufacturing, machinery and equipment, transport equipment, fabricated metal production and furniture.

"The manufacturing hub model aligns closely with our government's $7.6 million Advanced Manufacturing 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan.

"This government is committed to building the state's manufacturing industry through practical initiatives such as Made in Queensland, a suite of Industry 4.0 programs, Design in Manufacturing, Women in Manufacturing and our Hackerspaces program."

To date, the $40 million Made in Queensland program has awarded $18.2 million, through 53 approved grants, helping to create an estimated 532 high-skill jobs with regional manufacturers accounted for 22 of these approved grants totalling $6.6 million and over 280 high-skill jobs.