MANUFACTURING DEBATE: Local Labor MPs hit back against LNP
A DEBATE is brewing over which political party had the best approach towards stimulating the growth in the local manufacturing sector in the lead up to the State Election.
After taking fire from LNP candidates accusing them of failing to support local manufacturers or reduce power prices to make them more competitive, Labor’s Central Queensland-based members of parliament have bitten back
Speaking to The Morning Bulletin yesterday, Liberal National Party’s Keppel candidate Adrian de Groot said under Labor, fewer products were being produced in Queensland and jobs were being exported to other states and overseas with over 500 manufacturing jobs (six per cent) lost in CQ over the past year.
The LNP’s Rockhampton candidate Tony Hopkins said even before the coronavirus hit Queensland, the state had one of the worst unemployment rates, business confidence was in free fall and we had the most bankruptcies, with $1.2 billion in government contracts awarded to companies based outside Queensland.
Rockhampton MP Barry O’Rourke defended his government’s approach towards stimulating the growth of the local manufacturing sector.
“If the LNP spent less time whining and more time listening, they would know our $30 million commitment to manufacturing hubs here in Rockhampton, as well as Gladstone, Townsville and Cairns, is transforming the industry,” he said.
“We have a terrific partnership with CQU and the program is helping workers build on existing expertise and access new market opportunities.
“The only government backing manufacturing is the State Government. My priority is creating jobs, improving productivity and building international competitiveness.”
Keppel MP Brittany Lauga said the COVID-19 pandemic had really highlighted the importance of local supply chains and why her government was investing so heavily in the local manufacturing industry.
“It’s been amazing to watch our manufacturers respond to the pandemic to keep important production lines flowing,” she said.
“The State Government’s $46m Made in Queensland program is generating more than 900 jobs and $92m in private sector investment over the next five years.
“With our support, companies are innovating, expanding and providing highly skilled jobs for Central Queenslanders.”
Mr Hopkins said one of the keys to helping local manufacturers was having the right policy on power prices.
He said the LNP’s plan to end the Ergon monopoly would drive down electricity prices by around $300 a year.
“Regional Queenslanders shouldn’t be treated like second class citizens and should have the same deals offered in South East Queensland,” Mr Hopkins said.
A Queensland Government spokesperson said they were on the right track with power bills dropping three years in a row in regional Queensland.
“This because we own our energy assets: assets the LNP would sell if given the chance,” the spokesperson said.
“Over the three years, this will represent savings of $166 for a typical regional household and around $299 for a small business.
“It is hypocritical for the LNP to be talking about power prices at all after power prices went up 43 per cent on their watch.”