A Shorten Labor Government will develop a National Passenger Rail Procurement Strategy within the first 12 months of forming Government, driving jobs and investment in high tech rail manufacturing throughout Australia.

Just as we need a continuous build and procurement strategy to maintain our strategically vital shipbuilding industry, we need a national plan for Australia’s strategically vital passenger rail industry.

Over the next decade there will be significant investment from State Governments in rail and rolling stock, with a pipeline of over $46 billion already committed or planned for rail-based public transport projects.

However, Australia’s State-based rail manufacturing sector is fragmented and States are not required to coordinate or benchmark their procurement efforts for rail and rolling stock.

Malcolm Turnbull likes to use the train to brush off his Point Piper image, but he does not have a plan to ensure that the Australian rail manufacturing industry is strong and maximised to its full potential.     

Due to a lack of national coordination the rail manufacturing sector and its supply chain operates on a ‘boom and bust’ cycle, with very high volume years sometimes followed by years where no orders are sought at all.

The effect of this fragmentation has repercussions throughout the industry, the supply chain and the economy, resulting in dramatically reduced value for money to taxpayers, poorer services for consumers and uncertainty for workers.

Recent studies have shown that a national and strategic approach to rail manufacturing and procurement will not only grow our passenger rail manufacturing industry, it will also lead to long-term savings and better public transport outcomes.

Expert research commissioned by the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU), as part of their campaign for a national rail strategy, estimates that a well implemented national rail strategy can:

  • Create up to 659 full-time local manufacturing jobs.
  • Lead to an increase in GDP of up to $5 billion.
  • Increase industry gross value added of up to $8 billion.
  • Develop an Australian rolling stock export industry worth up to $4.6 billion.

Labor will work with the States, industry and unions to implement a National Passenger Rail Procurement Strategy.

Our strategy will be developed during the first 12 months of Labor forming office and will include recommendations for the next wave of reforms needed to streamline and harmonise rail-based public transport projects.

Labor will also work with the States to examine the feasibility of establishing a joint Federal and State Government national public transport authority, to address fragmentation in the sector, maximise opportunities for volume and certainty as well as innovation for local manufacturers and suppliers.

Adopting a coordinated, national approach and working collaboratively with the States will allow the sector to perform at an efficient scale, generate maximum local jobs growth and offer best value to taxpayers and public transport users.

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