The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) is recommending an overhaul of policies to promote manufacturing in regional Australia along with a major push to create new jobs.
AMWU National Research Officer Adam Wieladek will outline a series of proposals designed to create highly skilled and well-paying manufacturing jobs when he gives evidence today to the Senate Inquiry into Jobs for the Future in Regional Areas.
Mr Wieladek said manufacturing employs more workers than mining and has the capacity for major growth by focusing on a range of industries including domestic manufacture of lithium batteries, green hydrogen, rail rolling stock, defence equipment and renewables.
“We must develop new industries in regional areas and assist manufacturers to take advantage of emerging opportunities and create thousands of new jobs,” Mr Wieladek said.
“However, to achieve manufacturing jobs growth in regional Australia, we must address high energy costs, restricted access to finance and the lack of industry planning,” he said.
Mr Wieladek said Australia had an estimated 40 per cent of the world’s deposits of lithium but lagged behind in using the strategic metal in manufacturing.
“It makes no sense to mine and export minerals containing lithium when we could be manufacturing and exporting lithium batteries and electric vehicles globally.”
“Similarly, Australia should be supporting the growth of an export focused hydrogen energy industry.”
“And instead of State Governments procuring rail rolling stock offshore, wouldn’t it be sensible to restructure rail manufacturing and build all our rolling stock here in Australia?” Mr Wieladek said the AMWU was proposing the establishment of a Manufacturing Finance Corporation to assist manufacturers in regional areas which seek to expand their businesses and take on new employees.
“Capital for manufacturing startups and existing companies seeking to expand has not been readily available.”
“We also need to take action to drive energy prices down because high energy costs have disproportionally impacted the manufacturing sector.”
“Australia needs a national energy policy that offers certainty, support and stability for local industry,” Mr Wieladek said.