Newly minted agricultural minister Senator Murray Watt has hit the ground running in central Queensland promising more jobs in the meat manufacturing sector.
Senator Watt visited JBS meat processing plant near Rockhampton to discuss Labor's plan for more value adding to agriculture across the region.
He said meat processors are massive employers in central Queensland and are an important part of the supply chain.
Senator Watt said that while the livestock export market would continue to prosper, the Albanese government wants to do more on-shore processing.
"This means we are creating more jobs in the regional economy and will extract the full value of the product.
The Labor government is delivering on its election promises including a dramatic investment in on-shore manufacturing, with a $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund.
The National Reconstruction Fund provides a crucial financing vehicle to specifically drive investment in projects that will build prosperity across the country, broadening our industrial base and boosting regional economic development.
Senator Watt said the $15 billion Fund would partner with to provide loans, guarantees and equity to support projects that create secure well-paid jobs, drive regional development, and invest in capability, broadening and diversifying Australia's economy.
"As part of that we have cordoned off half a billion dollars for investment in agriculture," he said.
He said Labor wants to value add, and take all products up the value chain.
"We want to grow the best cattle to produce the best beef products."
Senator Watt said the government's promise of jobs and skills summit would happen in the next couple of months and bring leaders together to help solve workforce issues and put in place workable solutions.
He said workers shortages has long been an issue with processors and it has only got harder with COVID and the closing of international borders.
"We are talking with key industry bodies and unions and want to expand the Pacific and Australia Mobility program to bring in workers from the Pacific to work in agriculture and processing, and make sure these workers are not exploited," he said.
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