I would like to join the chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Migration. As deputy chair, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to speak to the committee's report on the inquiry into the Business and Innovation and Investment scheme.Attracting business and investment from overseas is a very important component of our immigration program. Indeed, at a time when most Western countries are competing with each other for business and investment, it is important for us here in Australia to provide the best possible incentives and opportunities in order to attract the type of investment and business skills that will enhance and develop our economic growth and create jobs here in Australia. So having a robust and effective investment visa program is key to realising and enhancing our economic growth and prosperity.
At a time when the manufacturing sector is undergoing significant challenges with thousands of jobs going overseas as major manufacturers relocate offshore and Australia's overall unemployment rate sitting at about 6.4 per cent, there is growing concern amongst analysts and economists that resource-rich Australia could tumble into a recession as early as this year. This worrying trend has been manifesting strongly in previous manufacturing strongholds, such as my electorate where motoring giant Ford Motor will shut its manufacturing operations in 2016 and unemployment in Broadmeadows is currently at 27 per cent. The local retail sector is feeling the decline also with combined sales at the Broadmeadow Shopping Centre down 13 per cent in 12 months through June compared with three years ago.In light of this, I want to speak today about a very important report that has been recently released. The report is called the Food and Beverage Growth Plan Melbourne's North and it is a master plan for developing food manufacturing in Melbourne's north region. The report was originally commissioned by the RDA Northern Melbourne and NORTH Link.
Friday 20 March, is National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence. I will be attending the launch of the booklet A safer nation for every generation, along with the CEO of the Bully Zero Australia Foundation, Oscar Yildiz; the Victorian Minister for Police and Minister for Corrections, Wade Noonan; and representatives of Corrections Victoria and the Jesuit Community College. This very important event is part of an ongoing program that addresses the issue of cybersafety. It addresses the growing need to do all we can to protect our communities, our families and our children from the often tragic consequences of cyberbullying. Too often, online harassment has had devastating consequences. For this reason, I would like to take the opportunity to highlight the good work of the Bully Zero Australia Foundation
Language is much more than an instrument for communication. It is also the main carrier for one's inheritance and the core source for ethnic and cultural identity. Our multilingual world would be better appreciated if we all had a greater understanding of our linguistic and cultural traditions. According to the 2011 census, there are about 418 languages spoken in Australia today. At least 151 of those languages are spoken in my electorate of Calwell. Other than English, the dominant languages are Turkish, Arabic, Italian, Greek, Maltese, Senegalese, Tamil, Maori, Aramaic and Bhutanese, just to name a few. Of course, the language of the Wurundjeripeople is often heard during our local welcome to country ceremonies. The importance of recognising International Mother Language Day is to remind us here in Australia of the enormous multilingual capacity we have and our duty to preserve it. It is also an affirmation of the right of people to speak their mother tongue free of persecution. Nowhere is this more vital than in our Indigenous languages, the mother tongues of our first people. Sadly, we find ourselves in a dire predicament where we are lamenting the decline of our Indigenous languages as they are increasingly becoming extinct.