The Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) has thrown its support behind a reported plan for the government to secure gas from east coast producers and make it available at lower prices for manufacturers, deeming it necessary to save Australian manufacturing from imminent crisis.
The AWU has put forward a variety of proposals aimed at achieving the outcome of affordable gas since 2014. This has included a national gas reservation scheme and, more recently, the idea of the government using its buying power akin to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, offered in a submission to this year’s Manufacturing Taskforce.
AWU National Secretary Daniel Walton said if the reports about the government’s intent were accurate they could save Australian manufacturing.
“If the government follows through properly on today’s reports in the budget, it could save Australian manufacturing and tens of thousands of blue-collar jobs,” Mr Walton said.
“Since our union launched the Reserve Our Gas campaign back in 2014 we repeatedly warned the Abbott, and then Turnbull, governments that our manufacturers needed access to Australian gas at an affordable price to survive.
“It seems that finally, a stroke before midnight, the Morrison Government might be waking up to urgency of the crisis and we warmly welcome that.
“Affordable gas should be a national advantage. Instead we have lumbered our manufactures – and the jobs they support – with uncompetitively high energy prices. It’s madness.
Walton said that Australia’s “unconstrained” LNG export market means foreign nations can get access to the country’s gas at lower prices than locals and “should be enough to incense any Australian, including the Prime Minister”.
“If we want a renewable energy future we need to shore up the grid with gas. This is the critical point many so-called environmentalists miss. You can’t throw a switch tomorrow and start powering the nation with solar and wind – especially not if you want to keep a manufacturing sector up and running during the transition,” he said”
“Aluminium, steel, glass – the world demands all of these things and they can and should be made in Australia. But if we want to keep and grow a cleaner and more efficient manufacturing sector, we urgently need gas to be made available at an affordable price now.”