UNIVERSITY OF WOOLONGONG
WEDNESDAY, 20 MAY 2015
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER ANDREW LEIGH: I'm here with my colleagues Stephen Jones and Sharon Bird, and we've just been touring the iAccelerate building at the University of Wollongong. Learning about their programs to encourage women entrepreneurs; engaging with companies producing 3D printers and pop-up ergonomic desks and potentially game-changing medical technology. It's really impressive to see the range of technologies and the extent to which firms are looking towards the future. It's exactly that future that Bill Shorten was looking to build towards with Labor's announcements in the budget reply about investment in science, technology, engineering and maths, and supporting Australian students to learn coding. I might just throw now to my colleague Sharon Bird to make a couple more quick comments.
SHADOW MINISTER FOR VOCATIONAL EDUCATION SHARON BIRD: Thanks Andrew, and thanks firstly for coming down and having a look at the facility here. This sort of facility and what they're doing here is just critically important for our region. We've had all the difficult times of the BlueScope restructure and the flow-on effect to small manufacturing firms across the region; the slow-down in coal mining and job losses around the area already as a result. It's really important for us to be able to tell locals that what they're doing here is not some remote, geek-type activity. There actually are - as we saw - companies setting up manufacturing facilities here for advanced manufacturing technologies like 3D printing production. Making these very cheap, small 3D printers that can go into our schools and places like that. They're building on and using the fabrication and design skills of our existing workforce. As they grow from small businesses in this incubator to big businesses in the local area that are employing people, that gives us a long-term future with the jobs of the future, as Bill Shorten said. So it's really great to have you here and I can't comment the university highly enough for this initiative and what it will do for our local economy.
LEIGH: Any questions?
JOURNALIST: As the economy changes, do you see potential to replicate facilities like this in other parts of the country?
LEIGH: Certainly in the ACT we're already seeing the work that the Australian National University and the University of Canberra are doing in building innovation and entrepreneurship. Co-working spaces such as Entry 29 are also helping to encourage new entrepreneurs; code clubs in schools are providing an opportunity for kids to build on the technology that is in our lives. No more questions? Thanks everyone.
MEDIA CONTACTS: JENNIFER RAYNER 0248 214 856 (LEIGH)
ALISON BYRNES 0419 878 956 (BIRD)