Doorstop - Direct Edge Manufacturing

  • Transcript, E&OE

BRETT WHITELEY: G'day guys. It is great to have you in Burnie and it is fantasticto be here with the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. It is great to have youJulie in Braddon, and the CEO of Direct Edge, Diane Edgerton. We will have moreto say about why we are here at the moment.

Can I sayit's another exciting day in Braddon where confidence again is being provenwhere we are going to be backing in more and more jobs in businesses just likehere at Direct Edge. That's what I am hearing around the doors that people arevery much focused on what is their future here on the north west coast and thefar north west on the west coast of Tasmania on King Island, what are thefutures for their kids and their grandkids? Well, the future my friends is verybright.

I want totake this opportunity to say that it is an opportunity for people to take veryseriously now the option of moving their families to Tasmania because there aremany jobs to be had. We are looking for skilled workers. People love Tasmania.They have always had a desire to come here, maybe even live here one day, butup until now, the last three or four years it has always been the lack ofemployment opportunities that have stopped them from making that decision. CanI say that Tasmania, on the north west coast, Braddon in particular, is openfor business and we want to see more and more people take opportunity in the jobsthat are flowing. Just in the last week on the West Coast the Prime Minister,standing alongside the Premier and the company announcing the re-opening of a nickeland cobalt mine. Whether or not it's going to be the opening of across-laminated timber or whether it's the new Iron Ore plant in Rogetta atHampshire, there are jobs coming out of this region and we need people to takeup these opportunities because the future is exciting.

So even morenews today which will show to the world, what I have always said about thisregion, this region I love so much, the potential here is absolutely enormous.We can compete, not only on the domestic Australian front, but we can competeat a global level and that's why I'm really thrilled that someone who walks theglobal stage and understands the potential of this great country as Iunderstand the potential of this great region is to have Julie Bishop here toinform you on another exciting opportunity that we will have right here on thenorth west coast. It is great to have you Julie.

JULIE BISHOP: Thank you Brett. I'm delighted to be here withBrett Whiteley, the Liberal candidate for the upcoming by-election in Braddon,and with Diane Edgerton, the CEO of Direct Edge Manufacturing, and my colleagueRichard Colbeck, Senator for Tasmania.

I loveBrett's enthusiasm and energy and passion and advocacy for the people of Braddon.I am here today to inspect this cutting-edge world-class manufacturing business,for we have some very good news and that is to confirm that Direct EdgeManufacturing, this booming business here in Burnie, has been pre-qualified totake part in the BAE supply chain in Australia for the build of the new Frigates,the Hunter Class Frigates announced by the Prime Minister recently. BAE is aworld shipbuilding design company. It has been awarded the contract to buildthe Hunter Class Frigates for the Australian Navy. They will need high qualityfirst-class contractors around Australia, and Direct Edge Manufacturing haspre-qualified through the internal audit process, the vetting process and nowstand the opportunity to be part of a significant build. This is going to meanmore jobs here in Tasmania - it will mean more advanced manufacturing jobsrequiring skills and people with the ability to take part in this very excitingproject.

TheAustralian Government has committed an investment of $200 billion to increaseour naval capability. The Hunter Class Frigates are an essential part of thatand I'm just delighted that Direct Edge Manufacturing now has an opportunity tobe part of this historic ship build here in Tasmania. Of course, the Frigateswill be built in South Australia but we need high quality world-classmanufacturers across the country and Direct Edge now have that opportunity. Ofcourse, they have pre-qualified in advance with Rheinmetall in being awardedthe contract to build our Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles so they already have avery high reputation in Defence contracts. I might just ask Diane to say a fewwords about this amazing outcome before we get back on to matters political.

DIANE EDGERTON: I am very pleased that BAE have announcedwe are one of the preferred suppliers and the expectations for us are, well, asI said we are looking for new employees all the time, and this just increasesthat factor now. There is jobs, like Brett said, the north west, what we feelis the place to be. We have the facility here, we have jobs here, we just needthe people. We are dedicated to employing locals or anybody that comes here towork.

JULIE BISHOP: Thatwill mean more apprentices too.

DIANE EDGERTON: Moreapprentices yes. We are dedicated to more apprentices and the company willdefinitely be growing.

JOURNALIST: Wouldyou be providing skilled labour or products? What would your role be in it?

DIANE EDGERTON: Itsproducts - we will be supplying products.


DIANE EDGERTON: Fabricatedproducts.

JULIE BISHOP: Sheet metal.

JOURNALIST: May I ask, for your business, in rough dollarterms what this could mean?

DIANE EDGERTON: Itcould be varied but it could more or less more than double the size ofbusiness.

JOURNALIST: What would that roughly be? Just in broadterms, just to give us a sense of -

DIANE EDGERTON: Inthe millions. That's the hard part because that is unknown until we furtherdevelop within but –

BRETT WHITELEY: Jobs, 25 Jobs.

JULIE BISHOP: Obviously,that is part of the commercial negotiations between Direct Edge and BAE but itis a massive contract. This is a company with a $4 million turnover now, soyou're talking about millions of dollars, but importantly it means jobopportunities for young people to get into a business that is growing, and the businessconfidence here in Burnie and in northern parts of Tasmania is paramount. It isquite obvious people are now seeing great opportunities that were not herebefore.

JOURNALIST: How many employees do currently have?

DIANE EDGERTON: 46employees and committed to 25 to employ by the end of the first quarter nextyear. If we can find them - that is an issue.

JOURNALIST: So that is a struggle at the moment?

DIANE EDGERTON: Itis, it's a big struggle.

JULIE BISHOP: Sothat's a shout out for anyone who's looking for a job or an opportunity to beupskilled in a world-class manufacturing company, come on here to Burnie.

JOURNALIST: Moving on to other matters – may I ask aquestion about Donald Trump?


JOURNALIST: Donald Trump has delivered a scathingcritique of the UK Prime Minister Theresa May's approach to BREXIT. Do youagree with President Trump's suggestions Prime Minister May has botched the negotiations?

JULIE BISHOP: Certainlynot. I don't agree with everything President Trump says. There is plenty I doagree with him on, but I certainly don't believe that Theresa May has doneanything other than deliver what the referendum required. The UK now has aWhite Paper on the EU/UK strategy and the obviously the May Government will beworking through that. She has challenges ahead - there is no doubt about that.First of all, Prime Minister May must get a negotiating mandate, she believesher cabinet agreed to one at the Chequers meeting last week, now the party mustback her. Once she has that negotiating mandate she then has to take it to theEU and negotiate with the European Union. There is a very long way to go andits very early days, so I would give her full credit for seeking to implementthe outcome of the referendum.

JOURNALIST: What do you make of President Trumpsdemanding NATO allies increase their spending?

JULIE BISHOP: Hehas a very valid point - this is where I agree with him that there must beburden sharing and the United States has for a very long time, been carryingthe burden of defence in the EU, since before the Cold War and most certainlysince the beginning of the alliance called NATO. But now it is time for allcountries to look at their own budgets, and the standard that's been set aroundthe world is 2 per cent of GDP. Australia, under the Turnbull Government willreach 2 per cent of GDP on defence spending in 2020-2021. The United Kingdom isat 2 per cent, Estonia, Poland, a number of NATO countries are but others,notably, Germany and some of the bigger economies are not. President Trump iscalling on all allies to share the burden.

JOURNALIST: President Trump says any trade deal with theUK would be at risk if the country maintained close ties with the EU postBREXIT. Does Australia share those concerns about its future trade deals withLondon and Brussels?

JULIE BISHOP: Whatmust happen first is for there to be agreement on how Britain will exit fromthe EU. Until we know that detail we can't make a judgement on what kind oftrade deals the United Kingdom will be able to enter into post BREXIT. So thefirst step in terms of an Australia-UK trade deal or a US-UK trade deal is tosee the fine detail of how Britain will exit from the European Union. We mostcertainly want to be the first in line, at the appropriate time when Britain isin a position to negotiate a free trade deal.

JOURNALIST: On Australia's drop in immigration numbers,do you believe they should be kept at lower levels?

JULIE BISHOP: TheAustralian Government ensures that our immigration numbers meet our needs andour national interest and that will change from time to time. So it's a matterof responding to a need at any one time. We have an upper limit of 180,000 andnet migration is now at about 167,000 but it should be flexible enough torespond to particular needs at a particular time.

JOURNALIST: One more on Trump from me - what do you makeof President Trumps approach to diplomacy launching such a stinging attack in amajor British newspaper interview and timing it to coincide with Prime MinsterMay welcoming him to the county?

JULIE BISHOP: Ihaven't seen the context of the interview and sometimes interviews can turn outquite differently when you see them of the front page of a newspaper, so untilI've actually read the interview I wouldn't comment on it. The point I make isthat the UK/US relationship is strong and enduring, just as our relationshipwith the United States and the UK is strong and enduring. While President Trumphas an unorthodox approach to diplomacy, he also believes in building verystrong and personal ties between leaders and I'm sure he and Theresa May willget along just fine. The newspaper has a particular headline but I don't knowthe content of the interview.

JOURNALIST: Just a question on the Australian involvementin this Thai rescue of the people stuck in the cave - some of the Australianinvolved in the cave rescue are due to arrive back shortly in Australia, do youbelieve that they deserve or should be given any sort of commendation oranything along those lines?

JULIE BISHOP: Infact I can confirm that the whole team from Australia is returning on a GovernmentC-17 transport plane back to Adelaide to drop Dr Harris in Adelaide and thenback to Canberra where a number of them are located. So we are bringing theteam home and they have asked for privacy. As you can understand they beenthrough a very harrowing experience, particularly Dr Harris with the loss ofhis father while he was in the cave, so they have asked for privacy. We are veryproud of the Australian team. They were part of an international effort, theywere an integral part of an international effort. This is what Australia doesbest - when our friends and neighbours ask for assistance we provide it. Inthis case we had expertise that wouldn't have been found elsewhere. Dr Harriswas identified by the British diving team as an expert, the Thai Governmentasked for him at the highest possible levels within the Thai Government and fortunatelyhe as able to be there, and I've heard from those who were involved that he wasabsolutely vital to the success of what must be one of the most difficult andcomplex logistical rescues that the worlds ever seen.

JOURNALIST: Would you consider bravery commendations intime? Is that on the table or is that not on the table?

JULIE BISHOP: Thisis clearly a matter for the Prime Minister to consider but we are also takinginto account the fact that they have been through an extraordinary ordeal andwe should never underestimate what they individually and collectively wentthrough in the rescue of these small boys and their soccer coach. It truly is amiracle when you hear more, as you will in weeks to months, about the logisticsinvolved with the planning and the complexity with what they had to do and thenumber of experts who were working together to achieve what many thought wasjust not possible or many thought could never be done without fatalities. Ittruly is remarkable. Of course we also remember that one very experienced diverdid die in the seeking to rescue these boys, so it was a tragedy but jubilationwere all mixed into one in this extraordinary rescue.

JOURNALIST: Minister, earlier this week Mr Whiteley wasmeeting with people from Grange Resources who were talking about undergroundiron ore mining. Do you think that this is a good time for Tasmania toconsidering these kinds of resource expansion operations given the US trade warsituation?

JULIE BISHOP: Ithink it is a brilliant time for Tasmania to be expanding its resourcecapability. I am from Western Australia - we believe in the leveraging ourresources to drive economic growth and drive jobs. Australian iron ore is verymuch in demand and I think that it is a great opportunity for more jobs inTasmania, all credit to the Federal Government and to the Hodgman StateGovernment in supporting the expansion of mining here in Tasmania.

JOURNALIST: To be fair though, I mean, the prices of ironore as a commodity have gone up about 70 per cent in about 18 months to 2years, but to be realistic though, the Australian Government doesn't really haveany control of international commodity prices, there's no reason why, forexample, there could be another crash like there was in 2015.

JULIE BISHOP: Wellcommodities are cyclical - that's the nature of them. I come from a State veryheavily reliant on minerals and energy, and I know the cyclical nature of it, butyou build resilience into your economy by diversifying. So you have manufacturingorganisations like this one, you have mining, tourism, agriculture,horticulture, seafood, fisheries, forestry - you have a diversified economy. Thatalso goes for your question about US and China - no country benefits from atrade war. What we have done as a national economy is diversify our tradingpartners. We have been pursuing free trade agreements with China, Japan andKorea which have all been completed and all very successful, and Tasmania willbe reaping the benefits from those free trade agreements, but we haven'tstopped there. We have been pursuing free trade agreements with Indonesia, weconcluded one for the Trans Pacific Partnership with 10 other countries, wejust concluded one with Peru, again, diversifying into Latin America. So youdon't put all your eggs in one basket and neither should the Tasmanian economy.

JOURNALIST: Speaking of all eggs in one basket, theerratic behaviour of Trump, does that push us closer into the arms of China orsay other countries around the world? We have to look out for our owninterests.

JULIE BISHOP: Wellthey are your words, not mine. I said that he was unorthodox in his approach todiplomacy but you judge that on the outcomes, and if he is getting a betterdeal for the United States, then that's what the leader of the United Statesshould do. What we are focused on is ensuring the best outcome for the peopleof Tasmania and the people of Braddon, and as part of the team a better outcomefor Australia generally. We are an export oriented market economy. We maintainour standard of living, our growth in our economy and job opportunities byselling our goods and services overseas. And that is why the Federal Governmenthas, for example, reduced the corporate tax rate. We are in a global marketplace - our companies have to be able to compete on the world stage and acompany like this will benefit from our tax cut. Under Bill Shorten he woulddemand that this company pay 27.5 cents in the dollar as opposed to 25 cents inthe dollar. So about 2,088 businesses across Braddon would be paying more corporatetax under a Shorten government, not less as you do under a Turnbull Governmentbecause it is so vital for them to be able to compete in world market.

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