Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has made his case for government in a wide-ranging speech with a focus on sovereign capability and manufacturing.
Mr Albanese kicked off the election year with an address to the National Press Club, where he made his case for why Labor should take government from the Coalition.
The Opposition Leader said lessons need to be learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic and Australia’s response to it, including in improving the country’s sovereign manufacturing capability to reduce an over-reliance on “precarious” global supply chains. He also flagged ‘fixing’ the National Broadband Network as a priority.
“My case for government is that we must learn the lessons of this pandemic in order to build a more resilient Australia for the future,” Mr Albanese told the press club.
One of the key lessons from the pandemic is that Australia needs to grow its manufacturing and support locally-made goods, he said.
“The need to manufacture more things here in Australia, to be more self-reliant, and to back Australian businesses, so our fate isn’t held hostage to global supply chains,” Mr Albanese said.
“COVID has made it clear that being at the end of a global supply chain is a precarious place to be. We must be a country that manufactures things here. Our plans add up to a better future in which Australia stands on its own two feet, self-reliant and self-assured.”
Manufacturing is shaping up as a key election issue, with both major parties placing the sector at the forefront of their initial pitches to voters.
Labor has already announced that it would launch a $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund if it wins the upcoming federal election, likely to be held in May. This fund would partner with the private sector to support investments which demonstrate they will grow the economy and increase employment.
This has been placed in direct contrast with the Coalition’s $1.5 billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy, which includes the $1.3 billion Modern Manufacturing Initiative.
The Opposition has also unveiled a Secure Australian Jobs pledge, a Made in Australia Skills plan and Jobs and Skills Australia.
Mr Albanese also said the pandemic has shone the importance of having strong internet, and that the NBN needs to be improved.
He also signalled Labor efforts to build stronger and deeper ties with Asia.
“A country that embraces its place in Asia, the fastest growing region of the world in human history; forging deeper relationships in the region as the tyranny of distance gives way to the privilege of proximity,” Mr Albanese said.
“A country that is smart, innovative and adaptive, where businesses find a partner in a resolutely pro-growth, pro-employment, pro-investment government.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison will make his address to the National Press Club next week.
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