Importing steel risks local manufacturing jobs

The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) has warned importing 120 turbine towers for two major wind farm projects could risk 500 skilled manufacturing jobs.

The AMWU reports that a local subsidiary of Chinese wind farm developer Goldwind plans to import 56 out of 73 towers for the Gullen Range project, north-west of Goulburn while REpower Australia aims to import all 64 wind towers for its Mount Mercer scheme.

The plans are 'an insult to the local manufacturing sector' which is already under severe pressure from the high dollar and overseas competition, Steve Murphy, NSW acting state secretary said.

Murphy added that given that such towers were the only wind farm component currently made locally, it beggared belief that the original idea for boosting local green jobs under the Renewables Energy Target was being forsaken.

“The local manufacturing industry has the capacity and Australian workers certainly have the skills to complete infrastructure for high-tech projects like these,” Murphy explained.

“But government and industry must help level the playing field as we have facilities and workers in Western Sydney ready and able to complete this work,” he stated.

Murphy said “renewable energy projects are important investments in new technology and there should be efforts made to ensure these projects invest in skills for the future. Other countries around the world have policies in place to boost their renewables sector but currently the local industry is being ignored.”

According to the AMWU national secretary Paul Bastian “there should be no greater mandate for governments to get work back into our factories now”.

“Decisions like these to shun local content come amid already tough news that Australian manufacturing has contracted 1.2 points and has lost 125,000 jobs since the GFC and is predicted to lose 85,000 more in the next five years unless action is taken,” Bastian said.

Bastian went on to say that “both the NSW and Federal Government should be imposing local participation targets on REpower and Goldwind and all other comers to this sector to ensure Australia reaps the benefits of burgeoning renewables sector.”