Opinion Pieces

Check out opinion pieces that Murray Watt has written.

BUY LOCAL TO CREATE REGIONAL JOBS

November 10, 2021

SENATOR MURRAY WATT
SHADOW MINISTER FOR NORTHERN AUSTRALIA
SHADOW MINISTER FOR QUEENSLAND RESOURCES
LABOR SENATOR FOR QUEENSLAND

BUY LOCAL TO CREATE REGIONAL JOBS

What could be more Australian than supporting your mates?

On the battlefield, on the sports field, or when the chips are down, Australians pride ourselves on helping our mates.

It’s one of the reasons we love to Buy Australian. Buying local creates jobs in our own communities and keeps the tills ringing in local businesses.

Sadly, our Federal Government hasn’t got the message.

Scott Morrison and his LNP Government have spent $190 billion buying goods and services over the past three financial years. Around 95 per cent of the Government’s top 20 multi-million-dollar infrastructure projects were delivered by contractors with foreign ownership.

In Central Queensland, we see big Federally-funded projects, like roadworks, bridges and military base redevelopments. But what are our local firms and workers getting out of them?

Only a quarter of Federal Government contracts were awarded to small to medium-sized businesses in the last financial year. The Federal Infrastructure Department recently told Senate Estimates that it doesn’t even keep track of how many local workers are employed on big regional projects.

It’s no wonder our manufacturing industry has been in decline. Around 40,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost in Queensland since this government came into power in 2013.

It’s not good enough and Prime Minister Scott Morrison could fix it tomorrow, by getting his own government to Buy Australian.

But whether it’s this, the bushfires or the hopeless vaccine rollout, he just never takes responsibility. For Scott Morrison, whatever the issue, he always blames someone else.

And Central Queensland’s local LNP MPs do nothing to fix it.

That’s where Labor will step in. Rather than spending taxpayers’ funds buying goods and services offshore, let’s Buy Australian. Let’s bring manufacturing back home to places like Rocky, Gladstone, Moranbah, Emerald and Biloela.

This is a huge issue for Labor’s leader, Anthony Albanese. Albo’s Buy Australian plan will use the Federal Government’s purchasing power to rebuild regional manufacturing and create more good, blue collar jobs in our regions.

We want to use more Australian contractors for big road, defence and other infrastructure projects. We’ll make procurement processes simpler, so that small and family businesses can get a bigger slice of government spending. What this means for Central Queensland is more local jobs and more money kept in local communities.

We’ve seen Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk do this by building trains in Maryborough, with work to flow through to the revamped Rockhampton Rail Workshops.

It’s a far cry from what we’re seeing from Scott Morrison, or LNP State Governments, who’ve bought their trains and ferries from overseas.

Now we need to see Queensland Labor’s approach adopted at the Federal level.

Central Queensland deserves more jobs in more industries. When we Buy Australian, that’s what Anthony Albanese and Labor will deliver.

This opinion piece was first published in CQ Today on Wednesday, 10 November 2021.

WEDNESDAY, 10 NOVEMBER 2021

A FAIR GO FOR AUSTRALIA