The Abbott/Turnbull Government has brought to an end a government procurement policy that attracted $90 million in investment to the Latrobe Valley and created 1000 jobs.
Under the ICT Sustainability Plan, implemented by Labor in 2010, 100 per cent of Government-purchased, general use office paper had to be from recycled content by 1 July 2015.
In response, Australian Paper built a $90 million de-inking and recycling plant at its paper mill at Maryvale, in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, which created 1000 jobs.
The plant, which represents a six-fold increase in Australia’s capacity to recycle paper, can produce 50,000 tonnes of recycled paper a year from 80,000 tonnes of waste paper that would otherwise go to landfill.
This crucially important manufacturing project received $9.5 million from the Federal Government, with further assistance from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Victorian Government.
But under the Abbott/Turnbull Government the ICT Sustainability Plan was not renewed by 31 July 2015, and the Audit Commission recommended its abolition.
The Government’s decision not to renew the Plan was revealed in an answer to a Senate estimates question by Senator Carr.
In this, as in so many other respects, the change at the top of the Government has not meant a change in attitude, in policy, or in a commitment to Australian jobs.
There is no excuse for the Government not buying Australian when a local manufacturer provides the best value for money, which is certainly the case with Australian Paper’s investment at Maryvale.
Australian Paper is the biggest private employer in the Latrobe Valley and the Abbott/Turnbull Government’s refusal to renew the ICT Sustainability Plan risks the jobs of 1000 workers directly employed at the Maryvale facility, with a further 6000 flow-on jobs at risk throughout the supply chain.
The company made its investment on the understanding that the Australian Government could be trusted to fulfil its own undertaking, and the Abbott/Turnbull Government’s reneging on that undertaking sends all the wrong signals to other potential investors.
Failure to abide by the ICT Sustainability Plan will be a disaster for the Latrobe Valley, a disaster for the workers and their families, and a disaster for Australia’s already diminished environmental reputation.
Malcom Turnbull cannot be trusted to stand up for Australian jobs and must urgently declare this Government’s willingness to continue the positive policies put in place by Labor.