The Prime Minister ferried a busload of political journalists from around the country to Nowra on Monday morning, broadcasting his fourth official visit to Gilmore in 2019 to a national audience.
Less than two weeks out from the federal election, in NSW's most marginal seat, Scott Morrison visited John Lamont, one of the most recognised and successful identities in the electorate's business community.
The co-owner of Nowra Chemical Manufacturers was happy to show Mr Morrison and Liberal candidate for Gilmore Warren Mundine around his factory, which employs 65 staff.
"This is a business that has been supporting its local community and it's only going to get better," the Prime Minister said.
"It has relationships with the University of Wollongong, new products, new equipment, they're investing, they have long-term plans to invest here.
"It's exciting to be at a business like this with a turnover of less than $20 million where, last election, the Labor Party said they shouldn't get a tax cut."
Mr Morrison announced the government's plan for Australia's manufacturing sector (scroll down for more detail).
Asked whether the Coalition would match Labor's promise to build a $35 million dedicated mental health unit at Shoalhaven Hospital, Mr Morrison said they had other plans.
"Later today we're making announcements about the Shellharbour Hospital," Mr Morrison said.
Mr Mundine said the federal government was in discussion with the state government about Shoalhaven Hospital upgrades.
"We're working very closely with our state Coalition partners," he said.
"It's like what we did with the road [Princes Highway] what your newspaper the South Coast Register has been at the forefront of getting improvements to that road, that's why we were able to get that half a billion dollars because we sat down with state treasury, step by step, and worked out what it's going to cost. This is what we'll be doing with our hospital services, we're having those negotiations now."
"Thankfully we have a Liberal government in NSW here too," Mr Morrison said.
"I would offer this caution, [Labor leader] Bill Shorten has offered to spend our money, make everything free, no one has to pay for it, that is not a responsible way to run a budget. Last time they were in power they made all these promises, they blew the budget, the debt went up, and they walked away from the things they were going to do."
About 25 journalists were ushered into in a noisy warehouse for the press conference to avoid the fracas outside. Standing on the council strip, men from the South Coast Labour Council and Australian Maritime Union were using a megaphone to broadcast their message to the Prime Minister.
The protesters believe the federal government is not doing enough to protect the jobs of Australian seafarers.
The union says the government has handed out temporary licenses to international vessels and refused to change legislation to bring cabotage trade back to Australia.
Coalition's plan for manufacturing sector
Traditional industries remain an important part of the Australian economy, with manufacturing employing hundreds of thousands of Australians - close to seven per cent of the workforce.
The Morrison government has vowed to reinvigorate the 'Australian Made' campaign with up to $5 million to promote the logo in Australia's key export markets and establish new trademarks in markets like the European Union, UK and Canada.
The Coalition will also create a Manufacturing Modernisation Fund that will stimulate at least $160 million worth of business investment in new technologies and processes so manufacturers can grow and employ even more people.
The Prime Minister said his government would back Australian manufacturers to tap into global markets to reach more customers and create more jobs.
"Our plan for a stronger economy will help take Australian products to the world backed in by the reputation our manufacturers have built over the years," Mr Morrison said.
"People all over the world know the 'Australian Made' logo means quality. Our plan is about giving those hardworking businesses a competitive edge in overseas markets.
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews, also in Nowra on Monday, said the Coalition would help small and medium sized manufacturers invest in new technologies, processes and high-value products so local manufacturers can expand and prepare for the future.
"We want to keep our manufacturers at the cutting edge so they can create more jobs," Minister Andrews said.
"That is why we will establish a Manufacturing Modernisation Fund which will stimulate at least $160 million of investment in the sector, with an extra $50 million from Government to be matched by at least $110 million from industry."
The fund will include:
- $20 million in matched grants of between $50,000 to $100,000 for smaller-scale investments in technology and efficiency improvements.
- $30 million in larger-scale grants of up to $1 million to support more transformative investments in technologies and processes, with industry to provide $3 for every $1 of government funding.
This builds on the government's investment of $100 million in the Advanced Manufacturing Fund, the creation of the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre, support through the Entrepreneurs Program and $40 million for the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre.
The new initiatives build on the Coalition's broader economic policies of free trade, lower energy prices, lower taxes for small and medium businesses, more skilled workers and maintaining a robust anti-dumping system, which are critical for the manufacturing sector.