Renewable energy an opportunity for manufacturers, says Shorten

Opposition leader Bill Shorten believes manufacturers faced with the death of Australian car making could find new work in the renewables sector and they deserve support to do so.

Appearing on the ABC’s Q&A program on Monday, Shorten responded to a question about youth unemployment in Ballarat by saying manufacturers in the city could turn their attention to making solar panels and related technologies.

“One of the big challenges in Ballarat, and I know that Rivers shed 100 people last week, we’ve seen the car components industry hit, is you start backing in manufacturing, and the way you back in manufacturing? You get behind climate change and renewable energy,” Shorten said.

“There’s a lot of car component makers who could start making solar products.”

Asked another question by an audience member who claimed she and her family had moved house because of nearby “dangerous and unsafe” wind turbines, Shorten disagreed and said they do not cause health problems.

“I’m not going to tell you that what you are going through is good or what’s right for you, but I don’t believe that wind farms are causing the sort of collective menace which you and other sceptics of wind farms believe they are,” he said.

The change of Prime Minister and subsequent ministerial reshuffle appears to have also changed the Government’s position on renewable energy.

While Tony Abbott described wind farms as “ugly” and created the position of wind commissioner to investigate claims of ill health surrounding them, newly appointed Assistant Minister for Innovation Wyatt Roy told the AFR he supports wind farms.

"The renewables sector is an amazing opportunity for us as a country. I think we should talk about it in an economic sense, innovation and entrepreneur sense, the renewable sector can create the jobs of the future," Roy said.