By CASEY NEILL
“Australia needs to see Australians making things,” Opposition Leader Bill Shorten told Dandenong workers on Tuesday.
He spent almost an hour at train and tram manufacturer Bombardier Transportation on 21 June, touring the facility and checking out the vehicles under construction.
“I’ve been in before, but I’m impressed,” he said.
He told one worker: “We won’t let you down, we just need your help on 2 July.”
There was a light-hearted break from Mr Shorten’s campaign tour when comedian Peter Helliar, who was travelling on Mr Shorten’s camping bus to report for Channel 10 television show The Project, challenged the aspiring prime minister to see who could don their safety vest fastest before they they began their visit.
Mr Shorten won, 13 seconds to 18 seconds.
Once inside Bombardier Mr Shorten gave a 10-minute address to staff in the lunch room, unveiling Labor’s Positive Policy for Victoria document.
He said it explained the practical benefits for Victorians who voted Labor at the Saturday 2 July federal election.
A huge round of applause and cheers rang out when he pledged that one in every 10 people employed on public infrastructure projects under an ALP government would be an apprentice.
“You go to work every day, you do highly-skilled work,” he said. “You work for a good company, and you do good work for this company.
Bill Shorten competes with The Project’s Peter Helliar to see who is the fastest at getting ready for work..
“I think Australians would be surprised to learn that you can turn around a tram carriage in five days.
“I think Australians seem to think that our manufacturing days were in the past.
“They’ve also got a very smoke-stack view of it – why on earth would young people ever want to go into it?
“These are good jobs – it’s not just blue-collar jobs, it’s design jobs.
“You make this a centre of manufacturing excellence and we can do well in the region.”
Bombardier is in the running to build the State Government order for 65 seven-carriage sets for the high-capacity rail project.
It will find out if it’s successful later this year.
The Journal asked Mr Shorten what the contract would mean not only to Bombardier, but to other suppliers in the region.
“I’m a big believer in local content,” he said.
“All around the world, governments when they invest in public transport do so because there’s a premium and part of the premium is local content and investment.
“Labor’s got policies – and we’ll be talking about it more in the remaining days of this election – about a commitment to local content.
“We are most committed to a buy local campaign and we’ll have more to say about that.”