COMMENT

Meryl Swanson's Canberra Matters | The Hunter could be a one-stop shop for manufacturing, engineering and maintenance

LOCAL PITCH: Paterson MP Meryl Swanson and opposition leader Anthony Albanese on a tour of Varley's Carrington workshop last Thursday. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

LOCAL PITCH: Paterson MP Meryl Swanson and opposition leader Anthony Albanese on a tour of Varley's Carrington workshop last Thursday. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Labor is proud to say we believe that Australia should build things. Australians, and especially the workers of the Hunter, have a proud history of manufacturing with great success.

The next time you pass a coal wagon hauling Hunter coal to the Port of Newcastle take a moment to remember that highly skilled workers across the Hunter deliver all the maintenance.

We can be a one-stop-shop, delivering high-quality rail manufacturing and the highest quality engineering and maintenance. My good friend and colleague Anthony Albanese said he wants to ensure we have rolling stock built in Australia in the first place.

I firmly believe that manufacturing is representative of the low-hanging fruit that could ensure our reinvigoration as a world leader in manufacturing.

My father often said "Meryl, measure twice and cut once"; a common lesson we all learn in our working lives. That's what we do by doing things locally.

Why are we building trains in China, yet fixing them up here in the Hunter? Labor will ensure that we get it right the first time and make them in the Hunter for the Hunter, rather than retro-fit carriages once they arrive via the port.

Our region's once-proud manufacturing sector must be restored. Manufacturing offers jobs and opportunity to ensure the prosperity of our region and the economic recovery of our nation.

This month, the budget was announced, and we heard the Coalition utter expressions of great pride, suggesting that hard decisions in the past have made it easier for the current budget to deliver in the future. I couldn't disagree more.

This government has been soft on multinational tax avoidance for the past seven years, costing the Australian taxpayer millions while claiming to be back in the black. Then announcing huge deficits. But for what?

Youth unemployment is at a record high, yet our youth will bear the brunt of this national debt. The unemployment rate will hit 7.25 per cent in 2020/21, economic growth will fall by 1.5 per cent in 2020/21, and we are facing a budget deficit of $213.7 billion in 2020/21. Wages are being wound back, many jobs are being cut, while the government commits to tax cuts for the wealthy. At a time when middle Australia is hurting, and the regions are facing a crisis, the government is turning its back.

Let's support small business to keep its doors open; let's ensure young people have the chance of sustainable employment. Let's make sure families and pensioners are supported and not falling behind.

As a region, we need to work together to recover, and we need a government that spends the money of ensuring outcomes for us. The Australian economy is all about people, and backing in our people is the way forward.

BEST WISHES, YEAR 12

I think I speak for our community when I say we wish every Hunter student the best of luck with their HSC. This year has brought unprecedented disruption to their HSC and final year studies, just know as a community we are very proud of you for the perseverance and leadership you have shown.

Meryl Swanson is the Federal MP for Paterson. Contact her office via merylswanson.com.au.

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