Labor rallies in support of Hunter ship-building industry

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The NSW Labor Opposition has called on all sides of politics including the Liberals and the Greens to support the shipbuilding industry in the Hunter instead of sending lucrative contracts overseas. 

This morning, hundreds of community members and defence contractors including Forgacs workers and Australian Manufacturing Workers Union representatives rallied at Newcastle City Hall to send a message that local jobs must be prioritised.

NSW Labor representatives at today’s rally included Newcastle Candidate Tim Crakanthorp, Shadow Minister for Finance Peter Primrose and Shadow Minister for the Hunter Sonia Hornery. They were joined by local Federal Hunter Labor MPs and NSW Senator Sam Dastyari who is in Newcastle today to hold hearings as part of the Federal Senate Inquiry into Naval Shipbuilding.

In recent months, the Abbott Government has sparked controversy by sending a contract for naval supply ships to Korea and Spain. A further contract for lucrative submarine work looks set to go to Japan.

This is despite the Hunter’s proud record in building our naval fleet and performing fit-outs and other component work for vessels manufactured in other parts of Australia, such as the Collins Class submarines.

Controversially, the Liberals and the Greens have resisted signing a pledge to keep naval shipbuilding onshore.

There are very few places in Australia capable of building ships and the Hunter is one of them. With unemployment in the Hunter above 8 per cent there is simply no excuse for local workers to be locked out of lucrative defence contracts,” Mr Primrose said.

“The Abbott Government is selling out Hunter defence workers and the Greens are turning a blind eye to it because they have very little respect for the defence industry.

“Labor believes that it is time for all political parties to put ideology aside.
“Manufacturing and hi
-tech defence jobs are a critical component of this region’s economy. “We have a jobs crisis in the Hunter and it is time to invest in local ship-building.”

Labor Candidate for Newcastle Tim Crakanthorp noted that unemployment in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie has risen from 4.8 to 8.8 per cent over the past year reinforcing the need for a regional jobs summit.

Mr Crakanthorp added that Mike Baird’s failure to stand up to Tony Abbott and ensure continuity of Government work was a major reason why Forgacs was forced to shed 100 jobs from its Tomago plant earlier this year. A further 1000 jobs are at risk.

The Baird Government has also eliminated the ship-building course at Newcastle TAFE as part of $800 million funding cuts to the vocational education and training system.

“Only Labor is prepared to take a stand and say we should be prioritising jobs in Australia over jobs in Korea, Spain and Japan,” Mr Crakanthorp said.

“We believe in growing the ship-building capacity of the Hunter, instead of degrading it.
“A Labor MP in the seat of Newcastle will be a powerful advocate in support of local ship-building jobs."


The NSW Labor
Local Jobs First policy can be accessed at http://www.johnrobertson.com.au/local_jobs_first 

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