Triple M, Moffee in the Morning

24 April 2024



Michael Moffett, Host: New South Wales Senator Tim Ayres. Tim, good morning mate.

Senator Tim Ayres, Assistant Minister for Trade and Manufacturing: G'day Moffee, it's so good to be here in person in the studio.

Moffee: Yeah, mate. The weather's a little bit cooler for you though. Well, when I say cool for you, like here in Coffs compared to how it normally is.

Senator Ayres: It is dead set beautiful out there it is. It's a day where I wish I wasn't working and I'd have my boy shorts on, it is absolutely beautiful.

Moffee: So, mate, tell us, you got up here yesterday, what are the plans? Why are you here?

Senator Ayres: Well, I've got a really exciting opportunity this morning to open Sportz Central, which is going to be a fantastic, revamped sporting facility for Coffs Harbour locals. It's been funded by the federal government, a bit over $6 million to do this job. I know it's going to make a big difference for kids playing volleyball, basketball, all those indoor sports. And, you know, it's one of the great things about this job, is you get to come and meet with a local community and open a facility that's really going to make a difference.

Moffee: And I mean look it was- it's been a long time coming. It was about five years ago that the funding was actually announced for it by the previous government. And there was obviously a bit of a delay in getting that work done. But to be able to see it there now and it's actually happened is a great thing.

Senator Ayres: Well, community sport's so important for country communities. I think that I used to come down here as young fella to train for sport, play sport, probably played in that centre, in it's all form itself, used to sleep on lounges in school gyms, as we trained over the course of the weekend. I know how important all that is for local kids in particular. And community sport, you know, it's something that brings a community alive. And there's a lot of volunteer work that goes into making that happen. And it's great to be able to support something like this.

Moffee: Yeah, exactly right. Now, while you're here as well, plenty of other stuff that you're going to be involved with and doing.

Senator Ayres: Yeah, look, this is an opportunity to meet with some groups of locals, hear about what's going on and is worrying them. I'm going to spend some time at the new Urgent Care Clinic in Coffs Harbour, which is offering Medicare bulk-billed services as the government extends our approach to making free bulk-billed services available to more people. You know, kids don't generally get sick in business hours. If you've got little kids, you know that they get really crook out of business hours, and sometimes people are forced to take kids to emergency. This will mean that there's a choice there. It'll be better for our local hospitals, better for families. Bulk-billed services there. I'm visiting the Akubra factory in Kempsey, which will be a real treat. I've been keen to have a look at that facility, employs a few hundred locals making Australia's famous Akubra hats, in my role as Assistant Minister for Manufacturing. So, it's going to be a pretty good day up here in the mid-North Coast. And I'm going to make the most of it.

Moffee: I mean, talking about the Urgent Care Clinic, it's been open here probably about four or five months now, and it'd have to make a big difference.

Senator Ayres: Well, we're seeing bulk-billing numbers across the country slowly rise. You know, imagine Australia without Medicare. That's what it was like before the election of the Hawk government in 1983. It's taken decades to make sure Medicare's a mainstream effective service, but Australians can't imagine family life without it. Now, we have to act to defend it, to protect it, to make it stronger. And the government's working very hard to lift bulk-billing rates. We've done work on the incentives there for doctors to expand bulk-billing facilities for patients. And we're building 53 of these Urgent Care Clinics around the country, most of them in regional Australia. And they are going to make a real difference for families in particular. I think a lot of the time of, particularly families with young kids, if you're working you got young kids, the pressure's always on. These Urgent Care Clinics are going to make a big difference.

Moffee: Yeah, they saw will. Talking about, I mean with Akubra and, it's one of the things for me that I love is I mean, you can go down the shop to Jack Simmons menswear and buying an Akubra in there, and to look at that and go, you know, that's made an hour and a half down the road. I mean, you've got obviously the Akubra factory there, you've got at Smithtown the Milo factory, you've got Saxbys doing soft drink in Taree. All of these brands and they're in essentially small country towns, employing so many people in those towns as well.

Senator Ayres: Yeah, hundreds and hundreds of people. And, I guess firstly, everyone should have a hat. Particularly up here, keep the sun off. I don't have the same long flowing locks that you do Moffee. I might buy a hat today. But seriously, manufacturing really matters in country Australia. I remember coming up here as a young union official meeting with workers from WE Smith, and what an important facility that was in in the local area. Akubra, Saxbys, all employ hundreds of people in local communities. That's why Anthony Albanese and the government are unrolling this Future Made in Australia strategy. It is the biggest piece of pro-manufacturing industry policy in Australia's history. We're at a juncture in our historical and economic development where we've seen hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs flow offshore. Under the previous government, we saw the auto industry close down completely. No Australian cars made anymore. 40,000 jobs gone in the major autos and the supply chain. Now we've got an opportunity with the big challenge and the big opportunities of the clean energy revolution as economies around the world, including Australia, transition to Net Zero. 97% of our trading partners moving to Net Zero. That means an industrial and economic transformation that is the biggest since the Industrial Revolution. And we're in a position in Australia with cheap energy, the world's best solar and wind resources, all of the minerals and metals that are required in the clean energy, you know, clean energy processes, batteries, all of the other processes, we have them in abundance. We've got an opportunity to transform Australia's industrial landscape. And where there's new jobs created, they're not going to be created in the CBDs of our major cities. They're going to be at our outer suburbs, our big industrial heartland regions like the Hunter Valley and the Illawarra. And they're going to be in country towns. And, I know, coming from a country town, how much those kinds of jobs matter and how much they transform opportunity for Australians in the bush, and give young school leavers an opportunity for some fair dinkum, good quality jobs. That means they can get skills, get a good quality job and build a family around them.

Moffee: Yeah, exactly right. Tim, thank you so much for coming in. Enjoy your time here on the Coffs Coast today.

Senator Ayres: Mate, it was great to be here.