The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) has expressed its approval for the local content laws that have been passed through senate, saying these laws will generate more jobs and strengthen the manufacturing sector.
“Australian manufacturing is suffering from the high dollar and uneven trade playing field. This is made worse by big multi-nationals ignoring Australian suppliers. Giving local manufacturers the chance to compete fairly for work will create jobs and strengthen our manufacturing sector,” says AMWU National Secretary Paul Bastian.
The new local content laws will require all projects over $500 million to prepare Australian Industry Participation (AIP) plans that will outline their strategy for providing opportunities to local manufacturers.
AIP plans are part of the core strategy in the Government’s Plan for Australian Jobs which will give local industries the chance to participate on a commercial basis. The laws will apply to all major projects, including infrastructure.
Mr. Bastian says a lot of Australian manufacturers have been “frozen out” of numerous major projects in the past and did not even have a chance to tender for work.
“Multinational companies have simply been using their global supply chain rather than looking at what is available locally or avoiding obligations through other schemes that don’t result in local job outcomes,” says Mr. Bastian.
“Major projects should benefit as many Australians as possible and that should include the many local manufacturers who produce quality products.”
Bastian cites several situations happening across the country in the media release. Major mining projects in Western Australia are sourcing less than 12 percent of their steel requirements from local manufacturers. Job cuts have been experienced in Perth as steel fabrication shops lay idle.
According to Bastian 490 redundancies took place over the last few weeks, including 48 apprenticeships. Youth unemployment has also gone past 25% in some areas. The Royal Adelaide Hospital is reportedly also sourcing materials such as windows, showers and taps from overseas suppliers.
“These new laws cannot come soon enough and will strengthen requirements to ensure delivery of real jobs for local workers and their communities,” he said.
“These laws are supported by unions and industry, and the Government estimates they will result in between $1.6 billion and $6.4 billion worth of extra work.”
Bastian however criticized the Coalition for doing the bidding of big businesses. The Coalition voted against the laws, arguing that they will just promote more red tape in the country.