Bill Shorten (Federal Opposition Leader) addresses the workers at Downer in Maryborough.
Bill Shorten (Federal Opposition Leader) addresses the workers at Downer in Maryborough. Alistair Brightman

Shorten pushes jobs as 'Bill Bus' stops in Maryborough

A SEA of orange surrounded Bill Shorten as he stood on a podium before a crowd chosen for their appetite for jobs news.

The Federal Opposition Leader's visit on Monday to manufacturing plant Downer was part of his nine-day tour of Central Queensland, organised in anticipation of an early Federal election announcement by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

 

Bill Shorten (Federal Opposition Leader) addresses the workers at Downer in Maryborough.
Bill Shorten (Federal Opposition Leader) addresses the workers at Downer in Maryborough. Alistair Brightman

Straight off the 'Bill Bus' and with evangelistic zeal, he delivered his plan to tackle the region's jobs crisis.

Mr Shorten promised more government contracts and contracts of major projects would be given to local businesses before multinationals under a Labor Government.

Priority would also be given to local workers rather those on temporary work visas.

Noting the end to aeroplane construction and shipbuilding construction in the Heritage City, Mr Shorten vowed trains would continue to fuel the restoration of Maryborough's manufacturing industry.

Under his plan, Local Projects, Local Jobs, businesses applying for projects worth more than $10million would need to prove they would be hiring Australian workers.

Successful bidders would be required to nominate an on-the-ground contact to engage with local small and medium businesses to raise awareness of upcoming tender and subcontracting opportunities.

Companies will also have to undertake local labour-market testing for any new employees required for the project, to ensure temporary work visa holders were not undercutting local wages.

 

Bill Shorten (Federal Opposition Leader) arrives on the big red bus at the Downer factory in Maryborough.
Bill Shorten (Federal Opposition Leader) arrives on the big red bus at the Downer factory in Maryborough. Alistair Brightman

The policy would also require one in 10 workers on major projects to be apprentices from the local area.

"Australia should be a manufacturing powerhouse, we should be training a lot more apprentices," Mr Shorten said.

"I want to make sure people in regional Queensland, and regional Australia, don't have to go to big cities for their apprenticeship."

By Mr Shorten's side during the visit, as she has been throughout the tour, was wife Chloe, who was given special permission to wear heels on site on Monday despite a strict closed-shoe policy.

 

Bill Shorten wife Chloe, talks with female workers at Downer in Maryborough.
Bill Shorten wife Chloe, talks with female workers at Downer in Maryborough. Alistair Brightman

Just days earlier, she mingled with surf lifesaving members at Caloundra, reminiscing about her own days as a nipper.

This was during Mr Shorten's stop on the Sunshine Coast, where he announced a $46-million plan to save young lives by giving every primary school student access to swimming lessons.

Mr Shorten stopped in Maryborough while on his way to Bundaberg.

The Liberal National Party's sitting Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien organised a number of media events in the Heritage City which coincided with the Labor leader's visit.



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