*Speech delivered in the Senate 22nd November 2022.
I hear a lot about Aussie manufacturing—how we can't compete with China, how we can't compete with cheaper Asian labour, how we don't make cars in Australia anymore, how we've gutted critical industries. When the pandemic came, we realised we didn't even make the basic health equipment that we needed. Our days of making things seemed to be well and truly gone. But are they? There are amazing businesses coming up with new ways of doing things every day.
Harbro Engineering in Spreyton, Tasmania, is just one of them. I visited them recently and saw the parts that they are making for mining, military and aerospace. They work with the latest high-tech steel alloys coming out of Europe. There's this one part they're making; if you get it overseas, it comes in five parts, but not Harbro. Harbro can make it in one piece, one unit. How great is that!
Harbro has also invested in 3D printing technology, which means less waste. Traditional metal milling means cutting parts out of a block and having to gather the offcuts for recycling. With 3D printing you can only use the metal you need: zero waste, better for the planet. It's innovation, it's manufacturing and it's happening right here in the heart of Tassie.
You'd think the state or federal governments would be tripping over themselves trying to give businesses like these a leg-up, such as grants. We want investment in local manufacturing. Governments say they want that too, but for whatever reason Harbro is just one of many out there that can't seem to get a whiff of government support, and for the life of me I cannot see why.
We need to be investing in local manufacturing. It leads to investing in Australian jobs, and it means that we're not relying on other countries in a time of crisis. Businesses like Harbro need our help to reach their full potential, and if we are serious about Australian manufacturing then these guys are the guys that we need back in the game.
This is how we'll make Australia make again, and while I'm on it, is there anyone out there that wants a job on the north-west coast of Tasmania? Harbro is looking for you; call them!