The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) has called for action from the State and Federal Governments to ensure that the manufacturing industry receives the benefits of infrastructure investments.
According to CFMEU, this news highlights the need for the government to make sure Australian-made products are used, whenever possible, in taxpayer-funded projects.
This comes after the Union has received complaints from several manufacturers in South Australia who unsuccessfully tendered to supply furniture for the $200 million Government-funded South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).
SAHMRI aims to be a world-class precinct of medical research and clinical application, with state-of-the-art laboratories and equipment in a purpose-built, 25,000 square-metre facility, adjacent to the site of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital (NRAH).
The project has reportedly awarded the contract to supply hundreds of workstations and chairs to Aura/Vitra Furniture, a business which has no Australian manufacturing facilities.
“The manufacturing industry, which employs almost one million Australians, has shed more than 100,000 jobs since the Global Financial Crisis in 2008, with the high dollar decimating local businesses,” said Dave Kirner, CFMEU Forestry and Furnishing Products SA secretary.
“On the SAMHRI project alone there are 675 medical researchers being housed in the building, which is one hell of a lot of furniture that could be produced locally, securing South Australian jobs.”
“The CFMEU is demanding action from State and Federal Governments to ensure that when awarding tenders for taxpayer-funded projects, operators are required to source local products so that our local manufacturing industry can receive some of the benefits of these infrastructure investments.”
Last month, issues were already brought to light after the same project used imported glass panels for the façade of the building, raising concerns about using offshore building material and offshore labor.
“Overseas products are flooding the Australian market, often sold below cost, in order to squeeze out local manufacture,” Mr. Kirner said.
Kirner said that unlike other countries, not enough is being done to lift Australia’s manufacturing sector.
“While overseas government’s are taking action — such as the United States which has implemented a “Buy American” provision in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that requires manufactured goods on government funded projects to be produced locally — not enough is being done to look after Australia’s vital manufacturing sector.”