Tasmanians are no stranger to economic pain, and Launceston has copped its fair share.
The Bradken steel plant at Youngtown shut down four years ago. It took 100 jobs with it. A few months later, we lost 28 jobs when Elster Metering closed their doors. We'd seen 50 go from our area a few years earlier when Gunns went under.
We used to make things in this country. We used to be self-sufficient. But that's been gone a while now, and this crisis has shown how bad things have gotten. The sad fact is, we've placed all our eggs in one basket, and that basket's been made in China.
This is what the government needs to learn from the shutdown. There is value in making things here. It's not just about the jobs, it's about the communities that those jobs support.
As we pull out of this shutdown, the Tasmanian and federal governments have an opportunity to start rebuilding our manufacturing industry. We need big ideas that will prepare us for the future. All we need is a bit of support from the people who pull the purse strings in government. Here's one idea: there's huge potential for Tasmania to start making green hydrogen. Studies show that Tasmania has a natural cost advantage in this industry. We could be exporting hydrogen to the world, and bringing high-skilled work to our neck of the woods.
I've been speaking with Tasmanian investors who want to get this industry started, and they're keen for getting as much local involvement as they can. We're talking about thousands of jobs for regional Tasmania.
It would be a fantastic opportunity for our workers to get involved in any number of aspects of the construction, operation and maintenance of wind farms, hydrogen production facilities and the like.
The plans are there, the finance is there. They just need a little push to get it going.
That's why I've started a new campaign to support Australia's manufacturing industry.
Because what we make, we control. We know we won't have to beg other countries for the equipment and tools we need to look after the people who live here.
Supporting Australian industry means helping local communities to thrive. It's about giving people a sense of self-worth - it gives them something to work towards.
The major parties in all levels of government need to be willing to address the harms that globalisation has caused.
The coronavirus has brought those problems right to the surface. It's been an issue for decades. We have to take back our economic sovereignty.
- Jacqui Lambie, Tasmanian Jacqui Lambie Network senator