Aurizon protest this morning.
Aurizon protest this morning. Matty Holdsworth

'Make the right choice': Senator's plea at Aurizon rally

THE man spearheading a Senate inquiry into Australia's rail manufacturing industry is confident Rockhampton could still have a strong future.

In the wake of Aurizon's decision to cease Central Queensland operations, Victoria-based Senator Kim Carr will address a crowd of sacked Aurizon workers today.

Sen Carr said Rockhampton could have a strong rail future if the State and Federal Governments make the "right choice and buy Australian now".

He claims from 2013-14 Australia imported $1.5 billion worth of rail equipment; more than five times the value imported a decade ago.


Senator Kim Carr will address sacked Aurizon workers in Rockhampton today.
Senator Kim Carr will address sacked Aurizon workers in Rockhampton today. Rob Williams

"For towns like Rockhampton this trend means that we will

virtually see a whole industry leave the community," he said.

"Australian industry has 150 years of experience in rail design, manufacturing and maintenance, but

we are now at a critical juncture.

"This is why Labor established a Senate inquiry to look at how Australia can maintain and extend rail manufacturing capabilities, which will report to the Senate before the end of the year."

Sen Carr said more than $45 billion worth of rail-based public transport projects are scheduled to start in the next five years, with demand for rail cars expected to grow by about 11,000 in the next 30 years.

"If we want these rail projects to be built in Australia, we need to re-invest in our rail manufacturing industry," he said.

"This includes making sure that we have the skills and capabilities necessary to complete these projects in Australia using Australian labour.

"Investing in the right infrastructure projects now will create jobs and economic activity in the short term, while yielding longer-term productivity gains that drive future prosperity in regional communities like Rockhampton."

Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union representative Bernie Misztal said workers will be "putting their hands up in the air" to vote on a resolution from employees and their families, which will be sent to Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

READ: 'Mongrel act' plummets sacked CQ workers to rock bottom

AMWU organiser Peter Lyon last week revealed the union would rally

the State Government to expand Queensland <QL>Rail's presence to Rockhampton.

Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne supported the proposal, but did not make a firm commitment at this early stage.

The meeting is open to the public and will be held at the rail workshops on Bolsover St at midday today.


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