AMWU slams Coalition over failure on renewables


The Australian Manufacturers’ Workers Union (AMWU) has launched a stinging attack on the Napthine Government following the loss of 100 jobs at windtower fabricator Keppel Prince, saying its inability to stand up to the Abbott Government’s attack on Victorian manufacturing will likely result in further job loss across the State.

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“If Premier Napthine can’t defend the jobs of workers in his own backyard, there is no hope in trusting him with manufacturing jobs for the rest of Victoria,” said AMWU Assistant State secretary Craig Kelly.

Keppel Prince, an engineering company based in the western Victorian town of Portland, announced on Thursday that it will close its entire wind farm tower division in response to the Abbott Government’s move to lower the renewable energy target (RET) from 41,000 gigawatt hours to 26,000 gigawatt hours by 2020.

In May, 76 of the Keppel prince workers wrote to Dr Napthine saying a federal cut to the RET would devastate their local community, his electorate around Portland.

“Dr Napthine was warned months ago by Keppel Prince and its workers that any move by Canberra to reduce the RET target nationally would be disastrous but he has failed to stand up to Tony Abbott for his own electors,” Mr Kelly said.

He said that those 100 jobs at the Napthine Government’s electorate in Portland would have been saved months ago if the Government had awarded the contract for 127,000 tonnes of steel for its Webb Dock expansion to Keppel Prince, instead of sourcing the steel from a South Korean supplier.

“Keppel Prince also won an anti-dumping case over steel for windtowers against foreign competitors, but even that wasn’t enough to help it when it got so little support,” Mr Kelly said.

“The State Coalition Government’s planning policy effectively excluded large parts of Victoria from having windtowers, taking away so much of the investment potential and the chance of expansion for our local manufacturers.”

AMWU National secretary Paul Bastian said the Government’s policy was destroying Australia’s manufacturing sector.

“This is a direct consequence of the Abbott government’s anti-jobs and anti-renewables policies. We’ve seen the government’s disdain for manufacturing in automotive manufacturing, in shipbuilding and now in renewable manufacturing,” Mr Bastian said.

“The Treasurer Mr Hockey has famously said he finds windtowers utterly offensive, while PM Abbott is happy running around the country promoting coal as the future. What we find utterly offensive is a Government that has such open disdain for workers and the nation’s future.”