Australian manufacturing

09 Nov 2020 speech

Ms FLINT (Boothby—Government Whip) (11:38): This year we have been reminded of the critical importance of Australian manufacturing. With the disruption of global travel routes and supply chains, access to vital medical equipment and personal protective equipment for our frontline health professionals was threatened. In response, Australian manufacturers, including fantastic South Australian companies like Detmold, rose to the challenge. Our domestic manufacturing capacity for surgical masks has surged from just two million a year before the COVID-19 pandemic, with 61.9 million surgical masks being made in the month of September alone. This pandemic has clearly highlighted that the demand for quality Australian made products is stronger than ever.

Australia's manufacturing sector is a vibrant part of our economy and a vital component of our economic recovery plan. It is key to almost every supply chain and adds value across all sectors. This is why the Morrison government is backing our manufacturers with the $1.5 billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy. The strategy is a key feature of our government's JobMaker plan and will harness Australian manufacturing capability to drive our economy recovery and future resilience. This is very welcome news to the 481 manufacturing businesses in my electorate of Boothby, who employ over 3,600 South Australians.

Boothby has a strong history of manufacturing, especially in the suburb of Tonsley. Tonsley was once home to Australia's Mitsubishi production plant, and since its closure in 2008 the district has been reborn with the establishment of the Tonsley Innovation Precinct, focusing on high-tech and advanced manufacturing. I am a regular visitor to Tonsley, which is also home to Flinders University and one of our best TAFEs in South Australia, to view the exciting work of many of the local manufacturing success stories in the area.

Micro-X is one such business. They design, develop and manufacture innovative lightweight X-ray imaging systems right here in Tonsley in South Australia. Led by managing director Peter Rowland, Micro-X focus their efforts on mobile X-ray technology. Micro-X currently have two X-ray units in production, the Nano and the Rover. These products are fully integrated digital mobile X-ray units, with the Nano to operate in the public health-care space and the Rover for use in military hospitals.

In addition, Micro-X is continuously developing and leveraging their X-ray technology for further uses, with a number of projects in development for both commercial and defence purposes. One product in particular which is very exciting is their brain imaging CT scanner for stroke diagnosis, which is small enough to use within an ambulance. The scanner will be able to play a vital role in point-of-care diagnosis, providing paramedics the ability to scan a patient on site and to determine whether the stroke is from a blood clot or a bleed. Such diagnosis is pivotal within the first hour, the so-called golden hour, of a stroke, when the chances of survival and mitigating long-term brain damage are at their highest. I look forward to having one here when the technology is further developed and rolled out. This technology is currently being trialled in collaboration with RMIT University in Melbourne through the mobile stroke unit project. It has far-reaching potential for diagnosis and treatment of other traumatic brain injuries. The scanner is set to be a game changer for paramedics in the treatment of stroke patients, which could be used by first responders around the world.

A short walk from Micro-X is SAGE Automation. They are at the forefront of automated technologies that integrate seamlessly with communities. In August I toured SAGE's Tonsley facility with Damian Hewitt, the
general manager for transport and smart cities at the company. At the site I was able to test out their Matilda smart transit hub system. Using a combination of smart technologies, Matilda addresses the last-mile problem for urban transport. The last-mile problem is the issue of moving people from a transport hub to their preferred destination. Matilda runs on a solar battery and assists commuters by connecting them with real-time public transport arrivals, nearby ride shares and bicycle hire stations. Earlier this year SAGE also received a federal government grant of almost $200,000 from the Road Safety Innovation Fund to investigate the deployment and evaluation of smart school zone systems. This is going to keep everyone using our school systems much safer.