The following comes from the Warrnambool Standard, journalist is Alex Sinnott. Friends of the Earth strongly supports local procurement policies, as they will drive local jobs and build manufacturing capacity.
However, it does seem strange – to say the least – for Coalition MP Denis Napthine to express concern about lost jobs attached to wind turbines when his government is currently implementing a policy which is expected to have a chilling effect on future development of the wind industry in the state.
26 Mar, 2011
SOUTH-WEST wind turbine manufacturer Keppel Prince is at the centre of a political tug-of-war after being bypassed in favour of a Chinese firm.
The row started when the major employer revealed that those behind a 13-tower wind farm near Hamilton were planning to import turbines from China.
Regional cities minister Denis Napthine said the purchase of Chinese-made turbines would cost south-west jobs and contradicted claims made by Prime Minister Julia Gillard that a carbon tax would create hundreds of new positions in the renewable energy sector.
“The irony is that these Chinese wind towers will be imported through the port of Portland, right under the noses of the Keppel Prince workers,” the Liberal MP said.
“(These towers will also go) directly past the Vestas wind-blade manufacturing plant that was closed in December 2007, costing 136 local jobs under the watch of both a former Labor government in Victoria and the federal Labor government.’
“I call on the federal government to match its rhetoric on local job creation through a renewable energy target scheme with real action to ensure that wind towers for the Hamilton Mortons Lane wind farm and other Australian wind farms are built by Australians, in Australia, creating Australian jobs,” Mr Napthine said.
The South West Coast MP said the federal government should also guarantee that wind towers imported in the country fully meet Australian standards for strength, design and safety.
A spokeswoman for Climate Change Minister Greg Combet refused to directly comment on the purchase of Chinese-made turbines for the Hamilton wind farm.
She said ongoing uncertainty over a carbon pricing scheme was to blame for decreased confidence in the renewable energy sector.
“The federal government is committed to providing appropriate assistance to these industries to help support jobs and competitiveness during the transition to a clean energy future.”
Wannon MP Dan Tehan said the federal government’s claims of job generation through growth had been damaged by the revelation that Chinese imported turbines were being erected in the south-west.
Thomastown MP Bronwyn Halfpenny claimed this week that the state government’s policy of allowing landholders the right of veto power over wind farm developments would damage the viability of manufacturers such as Portland-based Keppel Prince.
She called on Planning Minister Matthew Guy to visit the factory and meet with the firm’s general manager Steve Garner.