NSW Labor and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union have demanded NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian apologise to rail workers for insulting comments about their ability to manufacture trains.
On Wednesday the Premier told media that:
"Australia and New South Wales are not good at building trains, that's why we have to purchase them."
The comments are factually untrue with Tangara trains, which were proudly manufactured at Goninan’s (now UGL) in Newcastle between the mid-1980s and mid-1990s, still in service today.
Additionally, the West Australian Labor government will soon commence manufacturing rail cars in Perth while the Victorian Labor government has had more than 180 trains and trams manufactured by a local workforce since 2015.
The Liberal Government’s woeful record on overseas procurement has seen $2.7 billion spent on South Korean trains that don't fit the tracks and tunnels, $1.5 billion spent on Indonesian ferries that don't fit under bridges, as well as trams from Spain and France, and buses from Malaysia.
NSW Labor Deputy Leader Yasmin Catley described the Premier’s comments as a kick in the guts for workers in Newcastle.
“Gladys Berejiklian’s mendacious comments about our local workers reveal how truly ignorant she is,” Ms Catley said.
“We build some of the best trains and ferries in the world, but the State Government she leads is addicted to sending jobs and money offshore.”
Labor State Member for Newcastle Tim Crakanthorp called on Gladys Berejiklian to visit local manufacturers and apologise to the workers.
“The Premier’s comments were a slap in the face to the Hunter’s proud manufacturing industry,” he said.
“Time and time again this Government refuses to back local manufacturing in.
“Gladys Berejiklian is wrong, and she needs to face these workers, see the fantastic work they can do, and apologise.”