Zak Kirkup and the Liberals will invest $50 million in a Critical and Strategic Manufacturing Fund aimed at making Western Australia safer and more secure in the event of future major global disruptions.
Mr Kirkup, the Liberal leader, said it was important that WA was more self-reliant and was not exposed again by significant shocks in global supply chains.
“This $50 million Critical and Strategic Manufacturing Fund will provide grants from $100,000 to $1 million to develop and expand the manufacturing of items of critical importance to the state, making Western Australia safer and stronger, while delivering new manufacturing jobs,” Mr Kirkup said.
“We need to future proof Western Australia. WA needs to be more resilient and self-reliant. The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted that our global supply chains are highly vulnerable to disruption, leaving the state exposed to shortages of critically important equipment and materials.
“COVID taught us that WA didn’t have its own critical medical supplies. We didn’t have enough supplies of surgical masks, gowns, gloves and other personal protective equipment to keep our key frontline health workers safe from the virus.”
Mr Kirkup said the Liberals would also establish the Premier’s Critical and Strategic Manufacturing Council, which would advise the government on the priority investment areas to develop vital manufacturing capabilities and jobs.
“Critical and strategic items include not only personal protective equipment to keep West Australians safe from COVID-19, but componentry for critical machinery, fuels and important minerals required for telecommunication, space, defence and other applications,” he said.
“This is part of the Liberals’ commitment to creating 200,000 jobs in the next five years, the number of jobs the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Treasury data says we need for WA businesses and our economy to fully recover.”
Shadow Minister Assisting the Leader in Health Tony Krsticevic said boosting critical manufacturing was important for WA’s future.
“In addition to the $50 million for cash grants, a Liberal Government would use its purchasing power to establish critical and strategic manufacturing,” Mr Krsticevic said.
“We will ask the Premier’s Critical and Strategic Manufacturing Council to evaluate the possibility of aggregating the purchase of all state government surgical masks, gowns, gloves and other personal protective equipment to underwrite new local manufacturing capacity of this critically important equipment.
“But ongoing uncertainty about the broader regional and global geopolitical environment demands Western Australia be more prepared and self-reliant to deal with a much broader range of disruptions than just pandemics.”