Sky News AM Agenda

18 April 2024




Laura Jayes: Joining me is the Assistant Trade and Manufacturing Minister, Tim Ayres. Tim, we heard there what Ross had to say eventually. What do you think about those warnings about the manufacturing base and how difficult the operating conditions are?

Tim Ayres, Assistant Trade Minister: Well, that's why the government's embarked upon the Future Made in Australia strategy, Laura. We have a responsibility here and a once in a lifetime opportunity to shape the future of the Australian economy and to diversify our economic base, to rebuild our manufacturing capability and diversify the markets and supply chains that Australia sells into around the world. That's why I'm here in Kuala Lumpur with a very high-powered Australian business delegation in Singapore and Malaysia - that their highest priority is about industrial diversification and the energy transition themselves. That means there's enormous opportunity for those Australian firms that are engaged in the energy transition, whether it's in hydrogen, marine fuels, in energy production, in storage. They're all here engaging, and that means there's going to be opportunities for jobs and investment in Australia's regions. Our outbound approach, the Southeast Asia Economic Strategy, our approach in the region and our approach in Australia with the Future Made in Australia strategy are all linked because it's all about jobs, about the economy of the future, and making sure that Australia is in the race for global investment and jobs.

Laura Jayes: What type of support, government or otherwise, should Qenos get?

Assistant Minister: Well, I'm here in - Qenos is a really strong, established manufacturer. As Ross just said, it's operating in - you know, I'm most familiar with it in the NSW context, in Botany. It is absolutely confronting for workers and their families when you see something like this happen. I'm very reluctant from Kuala Lumpur to make comments about the government's engagement with Qenos and where that's up to, because I'm just not on the spot-

Laura Jayes: Right, but there is engagement. But there are talks with the government?

Assistant Minister: Well, of course there is, but what it does is it underscores how important it is that we build new modern industrial capability in Australia, in the global supply chains. They're going to strengthen our position in national interest terms and strategic terms, but also build jobs in our outer suburbs and our regions.

It's a long time since we've had a government in Australia that stood shoulder to shoulder with Australian manufacturing and blue collar workers on this question. And I'm really proud to be part of a government that's shaping the future and the way this government is.

Laura Jayes: It's a fine line, though, isn't it? Because we have heard the Productivity Commissioner warn that you also don’t want to create this environment where businesses are reliant on subsidies. What are you doing about that? Are you concerned that that could happen? And there is a fine line, isn't there?

Assistant Minister: Well, watch as the government unfolds the strategy and in the lead up to the Budget and in the Budget-

Laura Jayes: What does that mean? Are you saying that you are aware of that risk and, you know, that's how you've designed it so that doesn't happen?

Assistant Minister: What I'm saying is that we've got a government that's committed to a modern industry policy approach that is focused on the areas of national interest for Australia that deliver a public policy dividend and mean that Australia and Australians will have the capability to solve our national challenges. And there's enormous spillover benefits in terms of jobs and investment that flow from it. It's a modern expression of industry policy. It's a modern expression of how we rebuild our manufacturing capability in tandem with our region's growth, which also means that we have to and will maintain our open market settings, building, not reducing our trade and investment in the region as a necessary corollary of this approach. That's why the government has embarked on the approach that it has in the region in economic terms, and why we're doing the Future Made in Australia approach in Australia. They are inextricably linked and support each other.

Laura Jayes: Okay, we'll have to leave it there. Live from Kuala Lumpur. We haven't done that for a while.

Assistant Minister: Good to see you, Laura.

Laura Jayes: We'll see you soon.