Yesterday Labor Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Mark Butler and Shadow Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Kim Carr, held a roundtable with manufacturing industry and worker representatives on the growing impacts of the national energy crisis on manufacturing.

Labor Shadow Ministers heard from participants how energy prices and access to gas were hurting jobs and investment across the manufacturing industry.

The roundtable included business representatives from the Australian Industry Group, Manufacturing Australia, the Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council as well as Unions; the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union, the Australian Workers’ Union, the National Union of Workers and the ACTU.

Participants expressed grave concerns about the ability of Australian manufacturing to compete and hold let alone create jobs, due to pressures from electricity prices as well as gas prices and supply.

“While it was great to see business and worker representatives come together in a cooperative and constructive way, it is a shame it had to be to discuss the crisis being faced by Australian manufacturers because of the energy crisis unfolding under the Turnbull Government,” said Mark Butler.

Everyone present agreed there is now a need for urgent action to ensure the future of Australian manufacturing. Numerous policy options to address the energy crisis were discussed, including options to help ensure LNG exports don’t come at the cost of Australian industry.

The escalating gas crisis featured prominently in discussions, but in contrast to the experience of Australian manufacturing and the advice of AEMO, today we have seen gas producers declare the crisis non-existent.

It is hard to reconcile this view with the fact Australian manufacturers are being asked to pay above $20 Gj for gas, a price over 4 times as high as what they paid only a few years ago and as much as twice as high as competitors in Japan pay today, where much of Australian gas exports go.

Senator Kim Carr said, “Manufacturing employers and unions are clear the crisis isn’t over, it’s getting worse by the day. We need urgent action that guarantees gas to Australian industry at a reasonable price, as well as an affordable and reliable supply of electricity. This is an important dialogue to address these challenges and it will continue.”

Labor once again calls on the Turnbull Government to take urgent action to resolve the energy crisis facing Australia, and to stop playing politics with our economic security.

Labor stands ready to work with the Government to this end, but we will not ignore the crisis, demonise renewable energy or simply bash the states. We need real solutions to a real crisis that deliver affordability, reliability and a transition to clean energy. 

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