House of Representatives Speech- Employment, Isaacs Electorate: Chobani

Jobs have been under attack in this nation since the Abbott government came to power. In just the last four months we have seen appalling job losses announced at Qantas, Holden, Toyota, Forge Group, Alcoa and Sensis, to name only a few of the larger companies. In total, there have been more than 14,000 lost jobs announced just among those larger companies that report, and the flow-on job losses may be two to three times those figures, particularly in those parts of the manufacturing sector impacted by the loss of our automotive industry. The national unemployment rate has not been this high in a decade. It continues to rise, and the Abbott government has no plan.

Jobs have been under attack in this nation since the Abbott government came to power. In just the last four months we have seen appalling job losses announced at Qantas, Holden, Toyota, Forge Group, Alcoa and Sensis, to name only a few of the larger companies. In total, there have been more than 14,000 lost jobs announced just among those larger companies that report, and the flow-on job losses may be two to three times those figures, particularly in those parts of the manufacturing sector impacted by the loss of our automotive industry. The national unemployment rate has not been this high in a decade. It continues to rise, and the Abbott government has no plan.

Not every job loss in the last six months is the direct responsibility of the Abbott government, but responding to each of these losses is the government's responsibility. Yet all we have heard from Mr Abbott and his Howard-era B team of ministers is empty rhetoric about jobs for the future, while at the same time the government cuts from the very institutions that are needed to build those jobs.

Why would a government that is serious about jobs for the future be cutting jobs at the CSIRO, the world-leading scientific organisation that works at the cutting edge of innovation—innovation that is vital to the development of new industries? Why would a government that is serious about jobs for the future be axing the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, a body that has already proved its value by making money for the Australian people while providing vital capital to build the renewable energy sector, which will employ more and more Australians to provide clean power?

But it is not all bad news. Despite the lack of any kind of plan for supporting jobs from the Abbott government, new jobs are being created in my electorate of Isaacs as plans put in place two years ago come to fruition. Last week, I visited the new factory of Chobani in the suburb of Dandenong South. The CEO of Chobani, Hamdi Ulukaya, founded the company in 2005 in America. Chobani, which manufactures and distributes what has rapidly become America's No. 1 selling yoghurt, acquired Bead Foods, maker of Gippsland Dairy products, in 2011. Since then, Chobani has invested $30 million in building a 3,000-square-metre, state-of-the-art plant in Dandenong South.

The acquisition of Bead Foods by Chobani was a first for the company outside the US. Bead Foods and Victoria were chosen by Chobani because of the state's high-quality dairy. Since upgrading the Dandenong south plant, Chobani has tripled production capacity to more than 30,000 tonnes of yoghurt a year, and in two years it has increased its Australian workforce from 50 to about 140, with the number expected to hit 200 by the end of 2014 as it exports to South-East Asia.

Tony Abbott needs to recognise that being in government requires more than just slogans and empty rhetoric, that there are opportunities for Australian business which the government can and should encourage and assist.