A Shorten Labor Government will ensure that more trains are built in Australia by local workers. We will establish a National Rail Plan to ensure that every dollar of Federal funding spent on rail projects goes towards creating local jobs and protecting our rail industry.
Australia will spend more on rail in the next decade than on submarines. Labor believes that investment in rail should create local jobs and boost our domestic manufacturing capability – rather than just flowing to overseas industry competitors.
Australia’s state-based rail manufacturing sector is fragmented, inefficient and disconnected. At present, states and territories are not required to coordinate or benchmark their procurement of rail infrastructure and rolling stock.
Due to this lack of coordination, rail manufacturing has operated on a ‘boom and bust’ business cycle, with very high volume years sometimes followed with years in which no orders are placed at all.
Labor is serious about investing in rail. We have committed $3.7 billion to new urban rail infrastructure around the country. Governments and private companies will spend more than $100 billion on rail-based public transport projects throughout Australia in the next two decades, and a national plan is crucial to ensure we harness the massive opportunities that will arise from this investment.
A national plan will deliver more jobs and a more productive rail manufacturing industry.
Liberal governments across Australia have tried to justify overseas procurement as providing “better value for taxpayers”. But introduction of these off-the-shelf purchases has revealed the holes in that argument, with rolling stock turning out to be not fit for purpose and requiring onshore modification. NSW’s Korean-built intercity trains are wider bodied than existing trains and required extensive platform modifications, and Queensland Rail’s Next Generation Rolling Stock had to undergo extensive modification at Downer Rail’s workshop in Maryborough.
Labor will work with the states and territories through the Council of Australian Governments to develop a National Rail Procurement and Manufacturing Strategy.
As part of this strategy, future Commonwealth grant funding for rail infrastructure projects will be linked to objectives such as work being undertaken in Australia and jurisdictions cooperating on procurement.
Labor will also:
· Establish an Office of National Rail Industry Coordination to undertake a national audit of the adequacy, capacity and condition of passenger trains nationally and to develop train priority plans, including a proposed delivery schedule, for the next 10 years.
· Reinstate the important role of the Rail Supplier Advocate – cut by the Liberals in 2013 – to help small and medium-sized enterprises identify export opportunities and get a foot in the door with government purchasing bodies.
· Establish a Rail Industry Innovation Council to prevent the loss of more jobs and address the need for more local research & development, skills and capabilities.
The policy has a budget cost of $7.9 million over the forward estimates.
We will pay for it by making multinationals pay their fair share of tax and closing tax loopholes used by the top end of town.