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Unions call for local content in offshore wind power

Manufacturing News

The federal government has declared a new offshore wind zone for electricity generation in the Southern Ocean off western Victoria with trade unions immediately calling for stronger local content rules.

This, the third officially declared offshore wind zone in the country, will generate up to 2.8 GW of offshore wind energy, a fact welcomed by the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU).

However AMWU National Secretary Steve Murphy said that stronger local content provisions must be implemented if Australian manufacturers, workers and communities are to see the full economic benefit from the project.

“This Southern Ocean offshore wind project’s promised economic and employment benefits will not be fully realised without stronger provisions on including local content.

“Right now, there are AMWU members who live and work in Portland manufacturing wind towers and with proper support from the government, these Australian workers can produce the wind towers and other materials necessary to fuel Australia’s transition to renewable energy.”

The announcement of the new zone made no mention of any local content rules nor requirements for industry involvement plans.

There is also no requirement for Australian engineers to be involved in the early design of the projects – something which opens the way for products from steel to electrical equipment being sourced from existing overseas supply chains.

Murphy said offshore wind power was an opportunity for the government to live up to its commitment to make things in Australia.

“But without strong provisions to ensure that Australian-produced steel or Australian manufactured goods are included in the projects built in the Southern Ocean offshore wind zone, local workers and the regional communities who rely on them miss out on jobs and economic investment.”

In a joint statement Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen and Victorian Minister for Climate Action, Energy and Resources Lily D’Ambrosio said the zone would create 1,740 jobs during construction and 870 ongoing operation jobs such as engineers, labourers, technicians, operators, riggers, divers, and administrators.

Bowen said: “The Southern Ocean offshore wind zone has the potential to create thousands of new, high-value jobs and help secure cleaner, cheaper more reliable energy for regional Victoria.

“Australia has abundant renewable energy, the cheapest form of energy, and the government is committed to helping Australians benefit from these natural resources, including offshore wind.”

Image: Department of Climate Change

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