MANUFACTURING NEED: Aurizon rail workers outside the soon to be closed Bolsover Street rollingstock workshop in Rockhampton.
MANUFACTURING NEED: Aurizon rail workers outside the soon to be closed Bolsover Street rollingstock workshop in Rockhampton. Chris Ison ROK040717cauizon5

Update on the progress of Rocky's new manufacturing hub

WITH Aurizon due to wind up their Rockhampton rollingstock maintenance workshop later this year, the local community are waiting to see what could take its place.

Going into the state election, Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke promised $10 million to develop a manufacturing hub in Rockhampton.

He named the development of a manufacturing hub as one his key priorities once he took office.

Central Queensland was also singled out in a recent opinion piece by Labor's Anthony Albanese as he called for Australia to boost its railway steel production.

"In places like Central Queensland, it is crucial that our training providers deliver exactly what is required by industry to ensure the jobs created in the region are filled by locals,” Mr Albanese said.

Mr O'Rourke said discussions were ongoing about the economic opportunities for Rockhampton.

Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke.
Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke. Allan Reinikka ROK011217aorourke

"There have been early conversations also with Cameron Dick, Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning and Minister for Manufacturing on progressing plans for the development of Rockhampton as a manufacturing hub and centrepiece for industry in our region and a large amount of work is now required to progress this development.

"I am advised that targeted consultation to better understand the needs of the manufacturing sector in Rockhampton is currently being scheduled by the Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning to commence in Rockhampton in late February/early March.”

He said the consultation would seek information to inform the design, scope and operation of the manufacturing hubs, and will include local businesses, council, economic development agencies, TAFE, and universities.

"Consultation will also be undertaken with groups such as the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre, AiGroup and CSIRO,” Mr O'Rourke said.

"This approach will ensure that the Hub will meet local needs and that interested parties can contribute.

"When the state government is informed by the consultation results, a proposed approach and implementation plan for the Hub will be provided to the Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning for consideration.”

He said there could possibly be three different models to meet the needs for the local communities of Rockhampton, Townsville and Mackay to be developed.

In his recent opinion piece, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development Anthony Albanese also called for national rail plan.

Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development Anthony Albanese.
Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development Anthony Albanese. Megan Masters

"[With] at least $49 billion in new rail investment is planned in the next decade, Australia must put itself in a position to not only supply the steel for these railways, but to produce the rolling stock, rather than sourcing it offshore,” Mr Albanese said.

"If we get the industry policy approach right, we can create new jobs while lifting economic growth. We can also boost apprenticeships and improve the skills base which will propel Australian manufacturing forward for decades across a range of sectors.

"We should specifically target regional communities like Central Queensland.”

He said it was a tragedy that, even as demand for rolling stock is about to explode, Aurizon was closing its Rockhampton workshop.

"Australia must reverse this trend. We must revive our rail manufacturing capacity by developing a National Rail Industry Plan - a framework to ensure we extract maximum national dividends from growth in the rail sector,” he said.

"That plan should be based on intense collaboration between industry, governments, training providers and trade unions.

"States must co-ordinate procurement strategies and all levels of government must invest in research and innovation.”

He said a bipartisan approach was required and training needed to meet the needs of industry.

"In places like Central Queensland, it is crucial that our training providers deliver exactly what is required by industry to ensure the jobs created in the region are filled by locals,” Mr Albanese said.



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