Local manufacturing needs a strong energy supply: Dow boss

The head of Dow Chemical Company, Andrew Liveris, has used an address to the National Press Club to speak up for manufacturing and a strong local gas supply.

The head of Dow Chemical Company, Andrew Liveris, has used an address to the National Press Club to speak up for manufacturing and a strong local gas supply.

Liveris, Dow’s president, chairman and CEO, said that Australia’s economy had performed exceptionally well in the last decade, but weaknesses had been masked by the mining boom.

"The manufacturing sector has been the canary in the coal mines," AAP reports Liveris as saying.

"I believe that Australia should have a balanced economy with manufacturing, not on the sidelines, but part of its centre."

He warned that the economy had grown “unbalanced”, and that the 100,000 jobs lost in manufacturing since the global financial crisis had been partly the fault of domestic energy supply issues.

"With [gas exports], Australia's fuelled the manufacturing needs of other countries and created thousands and millions of jobs overseas all to the detriment of the domestic manufacturing sector.”

The Dow executive’s comments follow the release of a report by the Australian Industry Group and the Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association yesterday. Data prepared by the National Institute of Economic and Industry Research suggested the boom in LNG exports to Asia was hurting Australian industries.

“Like the Prime Ministers' Task Force on Manufacturing and the Queensland Government's recent Gas Market Review, the report highlights that major gas users currently face great difficulty in securing supply,” said PACIA CEO Margaret Donnan.

The report concluded that every petajoule of gas exported instead of used domestically forfeited $255 million in local industrial output for an export gain of only $12 million.

"Australia needs a competitive gas market and affordable energy will play an increasingly important role for the success of our industries sustainable employment," Ai Group CEO Innes Willox told the ABC yesterday.