A Labor Government will ensure that more trains are built in Australia by local manufacturing workers, establishing a National Rail Plan to ensure that every dollar of Federal funding spent on rail projects goes towards creating local jobs and protecting our rail industry, said Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese.
“Australia will spend more on rail in the next decade than on submarines. It’s important to get that investment right,” they said in their statement.
“Labor believes that investment in rail should create local jobs and boost our domestic manufacturing capability – rather than just flowing to overseas industry competitors.
“The Australian rail manufacturing industry employs 5,000 workers, with another 7,000 in the supply chain. But the industry has lost over 3,000 jobs in the past decade. Labor’s plan will protect and create more jobs.
“Labor’s serious about investing in rail – we’ve committed $3.7 billion to new urban rail infrastructure around the country. And with more than $100 billion to be spent by governments and private companies in rail-based public transport projects throughout Australia in the next two decades, a national plan is critical to ensure we harness the massive opportunities for this investment – for more jobs and a better industry.
“Labor will work with the states and territories through the Council of Australian Government to develop a National Rail Procurement and Manufacturing Strategy.
“As part of this strategy, future Commonwealth grant funding for rail infrastructure projects will be linked to objectives such as work being undertaken in Australia rather than commissioning overseas companies, and cooperation between jurisdictions on procurement,” the pair said.
Labor will also:
- Establish an Office of National Rail Industry Coordination, to undertake a national audit of the adequacy, capacity and condition of passenger trains nationally and develop train priority plans, including a proposed delivery schedule for the next ten years.
- Reinstate the important role of the Rail Supplier Advocate cut by the Liberals in 2013 – to help small and medium-sized enterprises identify export opportunities and to get a foot in the door with government purchasing bodies.
- Establish a Rail Industry Innovation Council – to prevent the loss of more jobs and address the need for more local research & development, skills and capabilities.
The decline of the rail manufacturing industry in recent years has discouraged rail manufacturing firms from investing in their businesses and forced many skilled workers from the industry.
At the same time as the industry is seeing jobs decline, we’ve seen huge projects go to companies overseas – with local manufacturing workers missing out.
Action must be taken to preserve the strategic capabilities of Australian rail manufacturing.
“Labor’s plan will maximise the amount of work that goes to Australian firms – creating Australian jobs.”
ARA Media Release: The ARA welcomes Labor’s Plan for Rail
The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) has welcomed Labor’s announcement that close to $6 million will be locked away in Labor’s forward estimates, which will go directly to a National Rail Plan.
“This is the first sum of money we have seen committed from a political party to a national rail plan. We would welcome bipartisan support for such a plan in the national interest,” said ARA CEO, Danny Broad.
“Labor’s plan for rail goes to the key recommendations of the recent senate inquiry into the state of Australia’s rail industry and how government procurement can improve the value for money, competitiveness, stability of work and capability of the rail manufacturing industry.
“In many respects Labor’s Plan for Rail parallels the components of the ARA’s National Rail Industry Plan released in September 2017 at a Ministerial Roundtable comprising ministers Chester, Sinodinos and Fletcher.
“Since then there has been wide support for the plan. However, this has been the first significant financial backing we have seen specifically earmarked for a national rail plan. We would welcome Coalition support in the upcoming Federal Budget.
“Labor’s Rail Plan embraces many of the key elements for which the ARA has been actively advocating, including involvement of COAG and a coordination group to engage government and the rail industry in progressing implementation.
“This approach to coordination of effort makes a lot of sense with such massive investments in rail by most Government jurisdictions.
“There is no better time to explore opportunities for local suppliers and contractors to engage with freight and passenger operators. This augers well for jobs and growth in a key industry sector.
“Urgent action is needed to assess the extent of emerging skill gaps and take corrective action through ‘fit-for-purpose’ training.
“Technological change is sweeping through our industry. This must be supported by a strong commitment to innovation — an approach strongly supported in Labor’s announcement,” Mr Broad concluded.