09 November 2020

Ms SWANSON (Paterson) (11:22): I'm proud to support this motion, because I am a firm believer in Australian manufacturing. In my electorate of Paterson we're leading the way in ensuring our nation has vital supplies during this pandemic.

At the start of the pandemic I was contacted by Greg Whiteley, chairman of Whiteley Corporation. Whiteley is a global leader in infection prevention, being one of the largest manufacturers of sanitation products in our country. During this pandemic they have focused on preventing the spread of COVID-19 by manufacturing far beyond standard production levels, shoring up the supply of infection prevention products across industry and government. In layperson's speak, they have kept our hospitals clean and helped many individuals keep their hands clean as well. Whiteley have been supplying our health service and many local industries to ensure that surface disinfectant and sterilant products are available to meet increased hygiene measures that COVID-19 has warranted.

Many in my community have been concerned about the risk of transmission via contaminated surfaces, and we know from the research that the virus can survive anywhere from one to five days depending on the surface material. Thorough surface cleaning and disinfectant have been able to ensure that many potentially contaminated surfaces are left clean and hygienic, ultimately reducing the spread of COVID. Whiteley has conducted a vast number of disinfectant tests against a wide array of contaminated surfaces, making sure they're left clean and hygienic, and ultimately reducing the spread of COVID-19. Whiteley has, over the last 25 years, ensured public safety is at the heart of everything that it does. Whiteley has also assisted our region with its commitment to collaborative research programs, recently announcing a collaboration with the University of Newcastle in developing advanced manufacturing for med-tech in our region, the beautiful Hunter. The project will research advanced manufacturing technology to increase local production capacity, particularly during times of great need, which we've all witnessed in the past 11 months.

Not only is Whiteley a great local success story; they're, indeed, an industry leader in innovation and global infection prevention. I want to commend Dr Greg Whiteley and his team on the work they've have done to keep my community and our country safe. Without Whiteley, many of the major hospitals across Australia would not have been sterilised adequately to cope with this pandemic. That is something we can be incredibly proud of coming out of the Hunter region. In the Hunter, we are proud manufacturers and we want to see this government understand our needs and invest in manufacturing, not neglect it.

Ampcontrol is another leader in local manufacturing. It is a fantastic success story. It was born out of an electrical company that serviced the coal industry. Earlier this year, a team of Hunter engineers and health professionals, led by Ampcontrol, won a state government contract to build emergency ventilators that would ensure hospitals across our state would have the equipment to meet the worst possible outcomes, should the virus spread. When CEO, Rod Henderson, received the call to arms, he and his fantastic team wasted no time in developing an emergency ventilator. The prototype was ready quickly for clinical testing and to be rapidly manufactured as necessary. Rod received a call from state government representatives in March this year. When asked if he could manufacture a ventilator prototype that could be rapidly scaled up to as many as 600 units if needed, he said he took a deep breath and replied, 'Yes; we'll give it a crack.' Well, Rod, you have certainly given it more than a crack with your team. If that doesn't sum up the Australian mantra of looking after your neighbours and having a go, I really don't know what does. I get goosebumps as I think about Rod and his team and how they truly stepped up at Ampcontrol when we needed them most. The project commenced with 20 Ampcontrol engineers, biomedical and clinical specialists from the John Hunter Hospital, and Newcastle University's Faculty of Engineering, and they have done a brilliant job. Examples like this remind us that governments must acknowledge not only the role manufacturing plays in this pandemic but the role it plays in driving our nation forward.