Barnett Government has failed local shipbuilding

The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union has branded today’s announcement of defence grants for local businesses as “too little, too late”, condemning the Barnett Government’s lack of support for WA businesses trying to secure defence industry work.

Commerce Minister Michael Mischin today announced that 20 local businesses would receive grants of up to $25,000 to help improve their competitive advantage when vying to be part of the Australian Government's $89 billion naval shipbuilding and maintenance program.

AMWU WA State Secretary Steve McCartney said the Liberal National government had been “missing in action” for the last eight years when it came to backing the local ship building and defence procurement sector, and had failed dismally in securing any significant defence contracts for Western Australia.

“The hypocrisy of the Barnett Government’s claims that it has supported WA businesses in securing defence industry work is astounding, with the latest announcement too little too late,” Mr McCartney said.

“The reality is that the Barnett Government has no plan for manufacturing jobs in WA, and as a result hundreds of job have been slashed in the ship building and defence procurement sector here in WA over the last five years.

Mr McCartney said it was beyond belief that the Barnett Government was also now spending up big on a new advertising campaign that claimed the government was “committed to developing a skilled workforce in shipbuilding” in WA when it had failed the local manufacturing sector for the past eight years.

“The Barnett Government is squandering taxpayers’ money on an advertising campaign that promises a bright future of WA’s shipbuilding industry.

“This campaign has been badged up as a series of legitimate news stories that spruik ‘decades of work for our children and grandchildren’ but it is nothing more than speculation and spin.

“It does not talk about the Barnett Government’s shameful legacy when it comes to the local ship building industry, and the very sad and sorry story of the hundreds of skilled workers who have lost their jobs in WA and have become jobless statistics.

“We need more than just a pre-election PR campaign, and last minute tokenism,

“What we need is a State Government with a real commitment to maximising the involvement of local workers and businesses in government-funded projects, and one that steps up and campaigns hard for defence contracts here in WA.”

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