House of Representatives Speech- Nation Building and Jobs Plan

I want to speak about the Rudd government’s Nation Building and Jobs Plan, which was rightly passed by the parliament last sitting week, and, in particular, the positive effects on employment thanks to the insulation component of that plan. The plan will see around 2.7 million homes become eligible for free ceiling insulation. This will create and support jobs across many sectors while reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by around 49 million tonnes. So on that score alone it is a very important measure, even before one gets to the economic stimulus effect.

I want to speak about the Rudd government’s Nation Building and Jobs Plan, which was rightly passed by the parliament last sitting week, and, in particular, the positive effects on employment thanks to the insulation component of that plan. The plan will see around 2.7 million homes become eligible for free ceiling insulation. This will create and support jobs across many sectors while reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by around 49 million tonnes. So on that score alone it is a very important measure, even before one gets to the economic stimulus effect.

I do not want to spend too much time talking about the opposition’s decision to vote against this plan, because there are so many positive things I have to say about this package, but I want to put fairly and squarely on the record that, while this government is making tough decisions and taking decisive action to best protect Australia from the global financial crisis, the opposition leader and his band of merry men sit there and offer nothing except their lack of economic credibility. Theirs is a position of economic vandalism, plain and simple, and the Australian people are seeing through their thin rhetoric and constant changing of position. The time has really come for the opposition to say what they would do. They have put no serious alternative to the government’s clear and decisive action.

Moving on, I want to focus on the insulation component of the plan because it will have a particularly strong impact in my electorate. Fletcher Insulation, which is Australia’s largest insulation manufacturer, has this country’s largest insulation manufacturing plant, in Dandenong South, in my electorate, as well as a major distribution centre in Braeside, also in my electorate. The company is firmly and long established in my electorate. What benefits the insulation industry and Fletcher Insulation also benefits the people of my electorate.

Yesterday I spoke to the General Manager of Fletcher Insulation, Mr David Isaacs, about the flow-on effects of the government’s insulation package. Mr Isaacs was full of praise for this plan and how it would support Australian jobs at so many levels of the insulation process. He said it is ‘a great initiative and very positive’. For the benefit of the House, let me run through the myriad links in the manufacturing chain where jobs will be created and supported. Mr Isaacs said this plan will see jobs created at the Dandenong South manufacturing plant, where glass wool is produced to use in their Pink Batts and Fat Batts. He also told me that other competing insulation products like rock-wool, polyester and cellulose, which are produced by other manufacturers, will need production to be boosted, and that of course means even more jobs.

Jobs will be created in the transport, warehouse and distribution sectors. Warehouses will need more staff to deal with the increased volume of stock, and the same for distribution. And what of hardware stores like Mitre 10 or Bunnings? Mr Isaacs tells me that this plan will also have a positive spin-off for these companies because of their distribution networks, and that is a big tick in the retailing box.

Of course, this is all before considering the people who will be employed to install the insulation in millions of homes across the nation. One of the great things Mr Isaacs pointed out to me was just how Australian this will all be. Insulation is not a product which is readily imported—and, for the benefit of the member for Sturt, who seemed confused about this on Tuesday, that means bringing something into the country. This is due to the very bulky nature of the product and also the fact that potential importers just do not have the distribution structure to get it to homeowners.

How many jobs will this plan create? The chief executive of the Insulation Council of Australia and New Zealand, Mr Dennis D’Arcy, with whom I have also spoken, said that 4,000 jobs will be created in the insulation industry and that ‘the economic multiplier will ripple well past the insulation industry’s raw materials suppliers, manufacturers, installers and delivery drivers’.

This plan is all about supporting Australian jobs. We are entering an economic phase that will see unemployment rise and times will get tougher, but I stand proudly in my electorate and say that I am part of a government that is taking every possible step to best cushion the blow of this financial crisis, with decisive and prompt action.