NSW Made: Labor calls for legislative reform to support local manufacturing jobs

11 November 2020

NSW Labor is urging the Government to support the ‘NSW Made’ – Local Jobs First Bill and legislate the use of locally sourced steel and aluminium in major infrastructure and energy projects.

It comes after the Government failed to invest in local jobs as part of its renewable energy roadmap. Not a single ounce of local steel or aluminium will be guaranteed under the Berejiklian Government’s policy. Instead, another bureaucratic taskforce will be established without creating a single new job.
Ahead of a debate about its NSW Jobs First Bill on Thursday, Labor has put forward a number of important amendments to the Government’s Electricity Infrastructure Bill, which include:

  • Maximising local content, local workforce participation, and the use of local suppliers on new energy infrastructure projects
  • Enshrining in law a guarantee that 20% of the workforce on major infrastructure projects will be apprentices, trainees and cadets.
  • Targeted employment zones in the Hunter, Central Coast, Illawarra, and Western New South Wales.
  • The appointment of an energy infrastructure advocate that will monitor and enforce compliance with local content and job creation benchmarks.
  • A new requirement to investigate and maximise export opportunities for local energy workers and businesses.

NSW Labor’s Deputy Leader and Shadow Minister for Rural and Regional Jobs, Yasmin Catley, said these amendments will help ensure NSW materials are used to support local industry through the recession.
“We all want cheap, reliable energy, but when we’re talking about a massive $32 billion investment, we actually need to be talking about jobs. It’s time the State Government used its massive purchasing power to generate jobs in areas like the Hunter, Illawarra and Lithgow,” Ms Catley said.
“A taskforce is not good enough. We need a jobs and investment guarantee in black and white, enshrined in this legislation and if the Government is serious it will support our amendments,” she added.
“All too often we see the Berejiklian Government sending jobs offshore. We cannot tolerate that any longer. When this sort of money is being spent on major projects, local jobs must be a priority,” Ms Catley said.
The Shadow Minister for Natural Resources, Paul Scully, whose Wollongong electorate includes the Port Kembla steelworks, said legislating the use of locally produced steel would provide immediate benefits.
“The steel industry remains an important part of the Illawarra community and economy. It employs thousands of people and for each $1 million of steel sold, it adds $1.8 million to the local economy and supports 16 jobs,” Mr Scully said.
“I want to see more steel used in renewable energy projects. But what the Government is offering is a meeting. A meeting is not a mandate.
“I want to see this legislation require them to support jobs in areas like the Illawarra, Hunter and Lithgow. And I urge the Government to go further and accept Labor’s NSW Jobs First Bill, which will be debated again on Thursday.”
Since 2011, successive NSW Liberal governments have sent local jobs offshore, awarding contracts worth billions of dollars to overseas manufacturers.
These include:

  • Imported steel for the International Convention Centre and Sydney Metro
  • Ferries from Indonesia and China
  • Buses from Germany and Malaysia
  • Trains from South Korea and China
  • Metros from India
  • Light rail vehicles from France and Spain

Labor’s NSW Jobs First Bill aims to overhaul the State’s purchasing and procurement powers to support NSW jobs, industry and supply chains, help workers develop skills and grow the NSW economy out of the COVID-19 recession.
It will bring NSW in line with other states, including Victoria and South Australia and provide a much-needed boost to economies across regional NSW.
The Bill will ensure suppliers looking to win government contracts would have to submit an Industry Development Plan to outline how they’ll support NSW jobs and industries.