Opinion: ALBO SURFS THE WAVE OF RENEWABLES, WHILST LOCAL MANUFACTURERES ARE WIPING OUT

Published in The Daily Telegraph, 17 April 2024

For the thousands of manufacturers across Western Sydney, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s announcement of a Future Made in Australia would have felt more like the end of manufacturing.

Albanese said he’s “surfing the opportunities of the next wave”. His campaign is a complete wipe out for Western Sydney manufacturers who are struggling to survive under this Government’s high-cost renewables-only approach.

Industry is up against the wall trying to pay their skyrocketing energy bills that are up 100 per cent and more. They can’t use renewables to fire their gas furnaces to make the products that we rely on for sovereign security – whether it be for rail, roads, or defence.

I know this because I have stood on the factory floors that make the essential items we need; the products that we could not do without in a global crisis. If we stop making these products here in Australia, there would be no other option but to start importing them from the willing international competition, waiting and ready to monopolise the Australian market.

While we are competing with China in an already saturated and cheap solar panel industry, they will no doubt see us as taking our eyes off the ball and having our hands off the reigns of Australian sovereign manufacturing.

Let us not forget that in 2018, the Chinese government came out with their own Made in China 2025 blueprint, revealing ambitious plans to globally dominate emerging technology industries. China is also leading renewable energy production globally. But for every ‘Made in China’ stamp you see, this massive productive output is enabled because they are not fettered by the renewables-only path to net zero emissions that the Albanese Labor Government is committed to.

China still imports gas and opens new coal-fired power plants to fuel their factories. Their production is diversified, and they will always ensure they can keep production lines rolling at all costs. Although renewables need to form part of Australia’s energy mix, we need to have all options on the table, such as nuclear, whilst acknowledging the need for gas and other energy sources as we transition to a net zero economy by 2050.

The result of the Albanese Labor Government’s renewables-only energy policy could see thousands of more Aussie manufacturers fall. The writing is already on the wall for many businesses, with insolvencies at record rates and continued offshoring to countries with cheaper energy.

Sadly, we are at real risk of losing our country’s foundries. Some have already closed because the cost of energy makes them unsustainable. Foundries cast steel, which is very important to a country that wants to protect its sovereignty.

COVID taught us many things, but when it comes to manufacturing, it taught us that we are at risk when it comes to global supply chain interruptions, whether it be in medical manufacturing or the materials that are used in building homes, or the steel that is used in our big infrastructure projects. It also taught us that sovereign manufacturing is precious.

I held a roundtable this week with Western Sydney manufacturers to discuss the issues they are facing, and their message was clear – we need a government that will bring down energy prices, reduce taxes, and prioritise local jobs.

These manufacturers make trucks to drive food around Australia, create bricks and pavers for new houses, make railway parts that connect our country, and cut steel for a range of purposes. Being on the factory floor of these businesses, and listening to them, is the most important thing any politician can do. These are where the ideas for innovation and growth occur. They are sick of being stifled by the endless reams of red tape and they need energy at better prices to be able to fight against international competitors.

Manufacturers in my electorate, across Penrith, St Marys, Emu Plains and North St Marys are crying out for more gas supply into the domestic market to achieve energy affordability and reliability for local small and family businesses.

These manufacturers are the heart of Western Sydney and employ so many locals from Campbelltown to Windsor and Penrith to Seven Hills and beyond. We cannot leave these workers behind. Their jobs rely on gas. Albanese’s solar panel revolution doesn’t help them to keep their jobs.

A Coalition Government will be one hundred per cent focussed on fixing the nation’s energy crisis, and restoring reliability to the grid. Our manufacturers and small and family businesses deserve nothing less.

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