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The words from our Premier were so shocking - I couldn't believe my ears.
"Australia and NSW are not good at building trains," Gladys Berejiklian said last week. "That's why we have to purchase them."
As someone who grew up in the Hunter, I also knew she wasn't right. The Tangaras we ride today? Built in Broadmeadow, just west of Newcastle. So were the outer-suburban Oscar trains.
Here in Western Sydney, our XPTs were built in Granville. And rolling stock was repaired for decades at Chullora.
So I know NSW is good at making trains - and many other things.
We just need a government that believes in our local businesses and local workforce - especially during recession.
The Berejiklian Government, which makes $34 billion worth of purchases a year, should set an example. Instead, it's sourced our new intercity train fleet from South Korea. It's purchased the new River Class Ferries as part of a $1.3 billion contract from Indonesia.
It's also bought Metros from India, buses from Germany and Malaysia; and light rail carriages from France and Spain.
These decisions have shattered our local manufacturing capacity. But when you don't custom-build, you also get a worse outcome.
The intercity trains were too wide for the Blue Mountains tunnels. And we now learn the new ferries will be too tall for Sydney's bridges. Passengers on the top deck will either have to duck, go downstairs or be decapitated.
What a huge mistake and waste of taxpayer funds.
NSW needs a broad-based recovery from recession. Construction jobs are important. But we also need manufacturing to bounce back.
That's why Labor will shortly propose a Bill to Parliament called NSW Jobs First.
When the NSW Government makes purchases - it should support NSW jobs, NSW workers, NSW materials and NSW supply chains - and I want us to change the law to do it.
People would be shocked to know that major NSW Government projects are mostly made from imported steel.
Not good enough. Labor wants NSW Made projects that use local concrete, timber, glass and steel; and employ local apprentices and trainees.
This should be the aim on every project. Not just buses, trains and ferries - but hospitals, schools and social housing. The Western Sydney Airport. New motorways. The lot.
Leaders once inspired us to do great deeds. As Premier, I'll never talk down our local workforce.
I'll say to our young people who aspire to make things: "we believe in you, show us what you can do."
This article first appeared on www.macarthuradvertiser.com.au
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