Labor risks throwing away Australian jobs
Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner said yesterday on Meet the Press that the government choosing to buy Australian made products was like him doing his 15 year old daughter’s homework.
I’m not sure what he means by that, but it’s clear he hasn’t been doing his own homework when it comes to using the government’s stimulus packages to create the most jobs possible.
In fact, the government choosing to source products overseas is like getting the neighbour’s kids to come over and mow the lawn, and then wondering why your own kids are hitting you up for pocket money when you go to the shops.
The global economic crisis is severely affecting Australian manufacturing and it’s 1.3 million employees.
In the last 12 months 77,000 manufacturing workers have lost their jobs.
That is why the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) and the Australian Workers Union (AWU) have formed a new Manufacturing Alliance to work towards a plan to help save jobs in this important part of our economy.
The Manufacturing Alliance is about putting jobs first.
In the face of the global economic crisis, we believe the Federal Government must take clear action.
First of all, the government must have a national plan that helps our manufacturing industries get through the economic downturn without losing the productive capacity that will be crucial when the economy does recover.
The government can do this with a ‘Fair Go’ purchasing policy that prioritises Australian made goods, particularly for Government funded infrastructure projects.
The ‘Fair Go’ purchasing policy is about weighing up the real costs of not buying Australian. It means considering the full economic benefits of creating jobs here, and the cost of unemployment payments if we don’t. This is consistent with our international trade obligations and all we are asking the government is to do is the full cost/benefit analysis for the Australian taxpayer dollar.
It is not protectionist. There is not a tariff in sight.
We are simply asking the government to look at the full benefits of spending government money to create jobs. The benefits to Australians who get new jobs, who keep their existing job, and the benefits of helping the industry through a tough time, so that we come out of the crisis a lot quicker.
In order to ensure workers and industries are well-positioned to bounce back after the crisis, we are also calling for a Training Grants Scheme to minimise further job losses and give employees the chance to upgrade their skills instead of being unemployed.
Why should we wait for people to become unemployed before the government gets involved to support them? There is a much greater benefit in keeping people in jobs, and using spare time during a downturn to improve skills.
These are policies that will support and help this industry grow and create wealth and jobs for Australians.
We know that the public supports this approach.
In a national opinion poll taken last month, 85% of Australians agreed that when purchasing goods and services, the Australian Government should by Australian-made, even if it costs a little more.
89% agreed that maintaining manufacturing industries is important for Australians economic independence, and 85% agreed or strongly agreed that the Federal Government should take action to prevent local manufacturers from closing down and losing jobs.
Both the AMWU and AWU will be voting together at this week’s Labor Party conference for policies that support our members’ jobs in manufacturing.
This might be a surprise for some, but we are working together because we both know that the scenario confronting Australian manufacturing workers is bigger than left and right factionalism in the Labor Party.
The Alliance will give us a stronger voice in politics, with industry and Governments, and a stronger voice to ensure that Australia remains a nation that makes things.
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