ANTHONY ALBANESE MP
LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY
MEMBER FOR GRAYNDLER
SHADOW MINISTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM
MEMBER FOR ISAACS
MONDAY, 14 DECEMBER 2020
SUBJECTS: Manufacturing in Australia; Labor’s ‘A Future Made in Australia’; floods.
MARK DREYFUS, SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL & MEMBER FOR ISAACS: It's a pleasure to welcome Anthony Albanese, the Leader of the Opposition, to my electorate. And just wondering whether you can hear me? It's pretty noisy here in this Volgren factory. It's excellent to see Anthony here. Anthony was here in Melbourne straightaway when the lockdown finished. And he's here again now that we've had two weeks of Parliament, back in the manufacturing heart of Australia here in the great electorate of Isaacs. Anthony spoke in his Budget Reply about the need to provide jobs for today, to train workers for the future, to restore and build our recovery out of manufacturing. It's fantastic to see Anthony here again in Melbourne, showing his commitment to that vision for Australia. Over to you, Anthony. Thank you.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Thanks very much, Mark. And it's good to be here with you in Dandenong and also, Julian Hill, the Member for Bruce. Both of you are important parts of the Labor team. And it's great to be here at a manufacturing plant right here in the heartland of Melbourne in Dandenong. The fact is that Australians can make things. The fact is, Australians do make things. What we need is a Government that supports manufacturing here, particularly high-value manufacturing. Right here at this Volgren factory, what we see is high-skilled jobs, almost 200 Australians being employed here, but as well, dozens of other companies relying upon this business through the supply chain. And that's the benefit of manufacturing is that what we're seeing here as well, today, we saw the first delivery where they're building the first electric bus for Perth as part of a contract they have with Western Australia, an important innovation. The fact is that we need to become more self-reliant. And when we talk about the economic recovery, what we need to do is not just to build back to what was there, but to build back better. To build back more resilient. To build back so that we can be more self-reliant. And that means delivering on manufacturing. And I'm very pleased to be here. This was one of the important components of A Future Made in Australia. Support for manufacturing. Support for upgrading our energy grid for the 21st century. Support for public housing. Support for making sure our defence industries have procurement from Australia. Support for apprentices. Today, we've met apprentices here at Volgren here in Dandenong. And there'll be more apprentices coming on next year. So, I do want to thank very much Volgren for having us here today.
I also want to, though, say that our thoughts are with those people in southeast Queensland and the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales who are experiencing yet another extreme weather event with the dangers of floods, with real concern about safety for people there. I want to repeat the message that the emergency services personnel are sending out, which is to not risk your life by going through floodwaters in a vehicle. Make sure that you listen to the authorities’ recommendations over today and coming days because this will be a difficult period for northern New South Wales and for southeast Queensland.
THIAGO DEIRO, CEO OF VOLGREN AUSTRALIA: Well, good morning, everyone. It's been a pleasure to have you guys here. Especially Anthony, Mark and Julian. Volgren built its first bus out of Dandenong over 40 years ago. And since then it has expanded its operations to three other states and abroad through exports to seven different countries. Against all odds, we've been managing to keep our business alive, fighting for local jobs and local manufacturing. The main reason for that is because we know that what Australians are capable of are the fields of heavy and advanced manufacturing. But we know it hasn't been an easy task. Unfair competition from imported buses and regulations that were supposed to protect local jobs and promote local content but are not enforced or audited and raising the red flag and made us rethink our business model. These things have changed since the beginning of the year. COVID has put Australians out of work and got people thinking, perhaps more than ever before, about where their products are made. Volgren currently employs 320 people across our manufacturing operations in Dandenong, Victoria, in New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland. We have shared our future expansion plans with the Victorian Government. And we want to create a hub for development of new technologies for zero emission buses, electrics, hybrids and hydrogen here in Dandenong. But to make it happen we need a clear plan and policies that give us all, employees, employers and business owners, fair treatment and promotes fair competition. This is the recipe for more opportunity and more jobs for all Australians. Thank you very much.