• Assistant minister for manufacturing Tim Ayres.
    Assistant minister for manufacturing Tim Ayres.

Australia’s manufacturing industry is calling on the federal government to take urgent action to make the renewable energy revolution a reality. Industry representatives have been meeting in Canberra for the past two days at the National Manufacturing Summit.

Weld Australia CEO, Geoff Crittenden, said the federal government isn’t moving fast enough.

He said Australia must take inspiration from the United States, and their Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which allocated upwards of US$500 billion in new spending and tax breaks that aim to boost clean energy.

“We are now at the stage where even the most obtuse observer must realise that global warming is real and is coming at us much faster than we imagined it could,” Crittenden said.

“Last year, Australia experienced record floods, with countless people losing their homes. This year, we’re expecting a record bushfire season, with the Northern Hemisphere already experiencing some of its hottest temperatures on record.

“The climate crisis makes manufacturing the renewable energy revolution an imperative.”

Crittenden said the US has enacted a plan with manufacturing at its heart, and it is already delivering unprecedented growth in the sector.

He said the federal government needs the courage to act now and adopt a similar plan.

“A policy of fiscal conservatism driven by Treasury is obstructing any type of progress. We are defeated before the first shot is fired,” Crittenden said.

“Australia must stop debating the fiscal policy and act. We must become a valued partner within international renewable energy supply chains.

“We must overcome our traditional ‘dig and ship’ mentality and leverage our critical minerals supply to manufacture complex, value-added renewable energy products onshore.”

Crittenden said the Australian Government must commit $300 billion—approximately $12 billion a year to 2050—to a program similar in size and scale to the US.

“With an IRA-type program that combines subsidies and incentives, commercially viable procurement procedures and a sensible national strategy, the manufacturing industry will be able to respond and carry its share of the load,” he said.

“We must become a clean energy manufacturing powerhouse, that exports value-added products to world. In this way, Australia will create thousands of new jobs, reduce our risks to volatile international markets, reduce the cost of living for Australian families, and play an essential role in global decarbonisation.”

Speaking at the summit, Assistant Minister for Manufacturing, Tim Ayres, said the need to drive Australian exports up the value chain has never been more significant, or more urgent.

Ayres said the IRA legislation introduced in the US is the largest investment in clean energy manufacturing in history.

He said Australia needs to respond with investments of its own.

“We need to transform our nation into a high-value, high-wage modern green economy which requires a collaborative effort,” Ayres said.

“If we work together Australia will reach our emissions reduction goals while placing ourselves in the forefront of advanced manufacturing nations.”

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