THE state Labor opposition says Premier Gladys Berejiklian's pledge to "make NSW the manufacturing capital of Australia" was "rank hypocrisy" given the way the Coalition had let billions of dollars worth of transport tenders to overseas manufacturers at the expense of local industry.
As the Newcastle Herald has reported, Ms Berejiklian is heading a trade delegation to England and Germany, and on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding with defence company BAE Systems for a "space and research" facility in the grounds of the Western Sydney International Airport being built at Badgerys Creek.
"I want NSW to be the manufacturing capital of Australia and that's why I am working hard to get these deals done because for decades we have been locked out of manufacturing and it is our time," Ms Berejiklian said this week from London.
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Talking to media outside the UGL Goninan site at Broadmeadow, deputy opposition leader Yasmin Catley and Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp said the Coalition had "offshored" the manufacturing of trains, buses, light rail and ferries.
Going to London to promote the state as a manufacturing site was "absolute hypocrisy" given all the government had done to let the Hunter's historical strength in rail manufacturing, in particular, wither on the vine.
"This UGL site behind us has been the heart of train manufacturing for decades yet we have now seen its workforce run down from more than 500 to about 100, and we've just been told that another 15 boilermakers were laid off recently," Ms Catley, the member for Swansea, said.
It is understood that the main rail work going on inside the once bustling Broadmeadow site is an assembly contract for six diesel locomotives for the state's main coal haulier, Pacific National.
While the Labor pair said it was appropriate that the Premier promote Western Sydney as one of the state's fastest growing areas, she should not ignore the Hunter and the Illawarra, which seemed to be the case so far through her overseas trip.
"The Hunter was once a hub for manufacturing and can be again - we have the skills, the knowledge and the people who want to do the work," Mr Crakanthorp said.
"The premier talks a big game but with a $2.3 billion train contract going to South Korea and with Spain building the light rail vehicles, her track record is abysmal.
"If they can build locally in Victoria, why can't we do it here?"
He called on the Coalition to "put its money where its mouth is" by sending key manufacturing contracts "back to the Hunter, where they belong".
The premier's promotion of Western Sydney comes as a new Infrastructure Australia audit points to the role that Newcastle and Wollongong could play in alleviating congestion pressures in Sydney.
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