Leaders make WA pledges ahead of debate

29/04/2019 - 10:09


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Prime Minister Scott Morrison has promised 1000 shipbuilding jobs at Henderson, and opposition leader Bill Shorten has pledged $75 million towards mining exploration, ahead of their debate tonight in Perth.

Leaders make WA pledges ahead of debate
Mr Morrison's $1 billion election commitment for shipbuilding at Henderson is set to create 1000 jobs.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has promised 1000 shipbuilding jobs at Henderson, and opposition leader Bill Shorten has pledged $75 million towards mining exploration, ahead of their debate tonight in Perth. 

Three new navy ships will be built under a coalition government in a $1 billion election commitment set to create 1000 jobs.

Mr Morrison announced the promise to build two mine warfare support vessels and a hydrographic vessel in Perth today.

He also unveiled a $156 million package to protect Australians from cyber-security attacks, and another $300 million to build or expand park-and-ride facilities in Melbourne.

Mr Morrison said the Australian Defence Force would continue to receive record funding to keep Australians safe.

His promise to build three vessels at Henderson comes after South Australia won most of the big defence shipbuilding contracts awarded by the federal government over the past year.

The prime minister focused instead on the work that has come to WA over the years.

“This commitment in West Australia adds to the 31 minor war vessels already being built in the state - built in Australia, by Australian workers, with Australian steel," he said.

"In stark contrast to Labor, who committed to build no naval vessels in Australia.

"We’re backing the West with our commitment to make WA a home of continuous naval shipbuilding in Australia and the Henderson precinct is crucial to Australia’s defence capability."

The $1 billion commitment will see the replacement of the Huon-class mine hunters brought forward from the 2030s to the mid-2020s.

A hydrographic military survey vessel will start construction in the early 2020s, also at Henderson.

Mr Morrison will campaign in Henderson, in Labor MP Josh Wilson's seat of Fremantle, before debating Labor leader Mr Shorten tonight.

It will be the first debate between the two leaders, with a second scheduled for Friday in Brisbane.

Mr Shorten has promised to invest $75 million to discovering mining resources if he wins the election.

Mr Shorten says the money will reverse the Liberals' decision to stop the Exploring for the Future program, which uses technology to find future deposits by developing underground maps to show where minerals are.

About two-thirds of Australia's potential mineral deposits remain undiscovered.

"We want to ensure Australian mines are powering the commodities of the future - such as lithium - as we build the renewable energy economy," he said.

Labor wants lithium batteries to be made domestically, seeing potential in the industry that will store renewable energy and power electric cars and smartphones.

The Association of Mining & Exploration Companies chief executive Warren Pearce welcomed the announcement.

“We have been advocating for the continuation of funding for this important program which is helping to better position Australia to uncover new mineral resources for development,” Mr Pearce said.

“When combined with the creation of an Australian Future Mines Centre, announced by Federal Labor in February, this will ultimately help industry better target its exploration efforts and overtime lead to new discoveries that will become future mines.”

The opposition leader will also pledge to make the South West region of WA a "renewable energy zone".

The region will benefit from support from Labor's $5 billion energy securitisation and modernisation fund, allowing for increased investment in renewables.

At present, 7.5 per cent of the area's power comes from renewables and Labor wants to significantly boost this proportion.

Mr Morrison's coalition has narrowed the polling gap with Labor to 51 per cent to 49 on the two-party preferred vote.

But the coalition's primary vote has dropped one point to 38 per cent, while Labor's is down to 37 per cent.

The poll comes after the first two weeks of the campaign where Mr Morrison focused heavily on the economy and attacking Labor's tax plans.


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