Transcript from NSW State Labor Leader Chris Minns and Lynda VoltzMP
SUBJECTS: Domestic manufacturing; John Barilaro; COVID19.
CHRIS MINNS MP
NSW LABOR LEADER
LYNDA VOLTZ MP
MEMBER FOR AUBURN
TUESDAY, 12 JULY 2022
SUBJECTS: Domestic manufacturing; John Barilaro; COVID19.
DAVID SMITH, MANAGING DIRECTOR LION NATHAN AUSTRALIA: Good morning, it’s fantastic to have Chris and Lynda with us today. And to kick off we’re going to hear from our local member at Tooheys – Lynda, over to you.
LYNDA VOLTZ, MEMBER FOR AUBURN: Thanks David. Thank you so much for having Chris and myself down here at Tooheys. Now, Tooheys is one of our big manufacturing industries here, a billion dollar turnover. Every time you hear me talking about traffic and movement and tolls and Parramatta Road, these are the businesses with a billion dollar turnover that those tolls are affecting that are stopping our trucks and traffic moving through this part of Parramatta. This is Auburn, which is the bulkhead of Western Sydney and it is the heart of manufacturing in New South Wales. So next time you hear us talking about traffic and tolls just remember a billion dollars turnover just in this factory alone.
CHRIS MINNS, NSW LABOR LEADER: Great, thanks so much Lynda, thanks so much to Dave and also to Chris for showing us around this really impressive facility that employs over 175 people, has been brewing on this site in New South Wales for over 150 years, and is a reminder in case we needed any, that domestic manufacturing, locally produced products, employing local Australians is a fantastic thing to do in this state, and something that the NSW Government needs to back, whoever is in power. I think this is a reminder for myself and Lynda that domestic manufacturing is not just about using the public purse to build transport infrastructure in New South Wales, it’s also making sure the economic conditions and the help and support of the government assists the private sector in enlarging domestic manufacturing operations and employing people to do well paid, elaborately manufactured goods. This is the kind of future that we’re seeing in other jurisdictions around the world, we’ve seen whether it’s at Tooheys, Lion Nathan or Diageo, right across Western Sydney, a real commitment from international firms to buy local and to employ local people. And one of the things that David mentioned to us as we were doing the tour of Lion Nathan not long ago, was that we’re now in a situation where the beer that’s consumed in New South Wales is in fact grown in New South Wales. So there’s a big agriculture piece here too; local farmers are producing the raw materials that have been produced, that are being turned into a wonderfully manufactured beer and spirits and alcohol right here in New South Wales. So we want to back that. One of the little known facts and something that we’re going to be speaking about a lot in the next nine months, is that there are half as many apprentices in New South Wales today in 2022 as they were in 2011, when the government first got elected. Now, that’s a reduction of 50 per cent. We’re seeing the implications of a reduction in that skilled labour right across the economy, from places like Tooheys, all the way to the construction and development sector. A lack of skilled trades people working in industries like this one, or in the construction sector or in engineering, or in elaborately manufactured goods. One of the key aspects of economies around the world that are trade exposed and have low entry barriers to entry for other competitors is that they cross subsidise vocational education, so that if you do work in an industry that may be subject to international competition, you know that the government of the day will provide the pathway for education so that you can get retrained. We haven’t done that in New South Wales for the last 10 years, the massive reduction in effect for vocational education, and in particular TAFE is having a big effect on the economy and one of the major ways we’re seeing that in the latest economic data is the skills shortage in the New South Wales economy right now. We need skilled people filling all kinds of professions right across the economy, but we’re not seeing it. Part of the reason for that is an under investment in vocational education, and in particular TAFE, that’s one of the ways that we want to turn around education in this state and start investing in domestically manufactured goods, backing local industries like Lion Nathan right here in Western Sydney.
Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: So cross subsidised education – is that what you see as one way to tackle the skills crisis, because we do see the government handing out free apprenticeships, free trade studies quite a lot?
MINNS: What you’re seeing, particularly in TAFE, over the last 10 years, is a reduction in the workforce of over 50 per cent. So you’ve had people that have committed their professional lives to, for example, TAFE NSW; have been made redundant in the last 10 years and their skills and expertise have left the sector. You’ve also seen parts of TAFE and training that are particularly expensive and can’t be recouped with fees completely drop off the TAFE schedule of potential subjects for those students. We want to see a turnaround in that. Now, how we do that is going to be difficult because of a decade’s worth of underinvestment, but if you look at the Singapore economy and the German economy, they quite proudly tout the fact that they have low or zero tariffs, very low barriers to entry and as a result of that the compact they’ve got with their workforce is that they plough money into vocational education so that you can get retrained in a different sector at low or minimal cost to yourself. Now, that’s good for the economy, that’s good for skilled, trained positions and I think it’s great for industry as well. You haven’t seen that in New South Wales, and COVID has really exposed that major problem with the New South Wales economy.
JOURNALIST: You spoke a lot about domestic manufacturing in your budget reply speech, a lot of people would have just assumed that means you’re going to buy as the state government if you get the opportunity, more things locally but you keep doing these visits to private operators, is that a sense that when you say domestic manufacturing, you want to increase it, you are talking about helping local private operators build it locally?
MINNS: There’s two parts to this. Firstly, it’s using the government balance sheet to build transport infrastructure, in particular in NSW, and we’ve seen a range of machinery and infrastructure built in other places around the world, when they’ve been brought to Australia they haven’t been up to scratch, whether it’s ferries or the inter-city fleet or the Inner Metro, which has been a complete disaster. Either there’s been budget overruns, they’ve been delayed or they’ve been both, and we’ve missed out on the job. So that’s one aspect of domestic manufacturing. The second part of that is helping private industry. We’d love to see industry grow, particularly in places like the Hunter Valley and Western Sydney. Now, we’ve got a proud manufacturing tradition in this state, part of it might be a brew house, like we’re seeing here at Lion Nathan, it may well be UGL or domestically built transport infrastructure like the rolling stock that’s been built in New South Wales for the last 100 years. We want to be a government that backs in domestic manufacturing and locally produced goods. We think part of that is the state government stepping in and buying local and it’s also providing the skill base so that Lion Nathan can have the most skilled workforce anywhere in the world, and employ local people to do these complicated jobs.
JOURNALIST: [Inaudible] I’ll jump to John Barilaro if can, do you think ICAC needs to have a look at this appointment?
MINNS: Yeah, certainly we’re very concerned about the situation as it relates to the Barilaro appointment to New York City. A couple of things I want to say, firstly, it’s clear that Jenny West has been treated appallingly by the NSW Government. This is what happens when an honest public servant steps in the way of a job for a mate of the NSW Premier. Her job was pulled from her, she was sacked from her existing position and then we find out there was an investigation into her conduct after she left the New South Wales public service. So I think it’s shameful the way that Jenny West has been treated by the NSW Government and I think the taxpayers of this state have been taken for a ride by the Liberals and Nationals in this state. If they’re getting up to this kind of behaviour after 12 years in office imagine what they’ll try and get away with if they’re elected in March next year. The ICAC may well investigate what has been a shameful and scandalous situation, but we need to continue with the Upper House inquiry because it’s providing revelations to the voters of this state that I think are crucial when they make a decision about who should lead us forward after March next year.
JOURNALIST: So has it reached a threshold where Labor for example, would refer this to the ICAC or do you believe that if that happens, the inquiry would then be impeded, so do you wait for the inquiry and then refer it?
MINNS: The rules in relation to ICAC are really straightforward, they can step in and conduct their own inquiry at any point and I’d be reluctant to comment about their internal processes. If indeed, they’re considering entering an investigation to find out what happened here that’s up to them and of course, I’d welcome it. What I would say is concurrent with that the Upper House inquiry is conducting important work to hold the government to account. For example, it has discovered that a perfectly qualified, educated and experienced woman was qualified for the job that the government said was not provided to her. We discovered that in the last 24 hours that that same person was told by her immediate supervisor, that the job would be yanked from her and given as a present to somebody else. We’ve also discovered that far from being an independent, honest, at arm’s length process to fill this position, none of that has proven to be true. Now all of those revelations have come about and be presented to the media and the people of New South Wales as a result of that Upper House inquiry. So I think it’s doing its job well, it’s important that we get to the bottom of this, and it’s now incumbent on the Premier of NSW to explain what the hell is happening here. I mean, this is not personal money for the Liberal Party and the National Party, these are taxpayer funds, that it seems to be effectively being used to give a mate of the Premier’s a job.
JOURNALIST: The Upper House committee today released the documents that Jenny West tendered yesterday, including the briefing note she received which was signed by Gladys Berejiklian. It says multiple times that she is the successful candidate. Does that fly in the face of what Dominic Perrottet the Premier told Parliament when he stood up and said there was no successful candidate identified in the first round of recruitment?
MINNS: The Premier repeatedly told the NSW Parliament that it was an independent process that there was no successful candidate and indeed, there was no appropriate candidate. None of those things are proven to be correct. Thee Premier needs to either correct the record today and explain why he misled the NSW Parliament, if it was unintentional, he needs to explain that to the people of New South Wales. There is a lot of questions here and I think the bottom line here is that Jenny West’s evidence to the NSW Upper House inquiry said three things; firstly, that her immediate supervisor told her number one she’d spoken to Stuart Ayres, number two, Jenny West wouldn’t be getting the job and number three, this would be a present for somebody else. Now those are damning revelations, they’re completely at odds from what the government has been telling the people of New South Wales for the last fortnight, and the Premier needs to explain what has been happening here, because this is not the personal piggy bank of the Liberal Party and the National Party, these are taxpayer dollars, and we have a right to know what’s gone on here.
JOURNALIST: Can I just get your reaction to the COVID news today, the Health Department has reduced the reinfection risk period from 12 weeks down to four. Kerry Chant saying it’s now likely you can get reinfected with COVID within a matter of weeks. Are you happy with the response that you’ve seen so far as?
MINNS: It’s a rapidly changing set of circumstances. I’ve said in the past when it comes to COVID management that we fully appreciate that in many cases, particularly with the variant of the disease changing, there’s no roadmap to follow. So it’s clear that the government of the day needs to examine world’s best practice and what’s been happening, often just two weeks in advance in other jurisdictions around the world. What I’d say as our base principle here is listen to Kerry Chant, take onboard her advice as we navigate this very difficult set of circumstances. I understand it’s a tricky situation for the Health Department and the NSW Government. But If changes need to be made consistent with the advice from the Chief Health Officer, then the Premier can expect no criticism from us, we want to make sure that the public is safe and that we protect our public hospital system.