Manufacturing Australia has re-stated its warning that a lack of intervention in Australia’s gas market will see many industry jobs lost.
The lobby group told the ABC's 7:30 last night that 100,000 jobs and $28 billion in annual GDP would be lost if action wasn’t taken. The group supports a national interest test, such as the one in place in the United States.
CSR, a member of Manufacturing Australia, has cited rising energy prices as one of the reasons why it decided to close its Ingleburn plant, with 150 redundancies resulting.
"Nobody quite understood that would mean there wouldn't be enough gas available post-2016 to support local industries like this one," Rob Sindel, CSR’s managing director, told the ABC.
"The saddest part is the 150 people who worked here. It's not only their jobs.
"Those 150 people supported a family, supported a community, and now they are out looking for employment."
Manufacturing Australia been calling for action on gas policy for the last year, and “Australia’s energy advantage” is one part of its three-pronged policy agenda, along with fair trade and “investing for manufacturing growth”.
It’s CEO, Sue Morphet, called for action on gas in her keynote address at the 10th Manufacturers’ Monthly Endeavour Awards last year.
Critics of unrestricted exports such as Manufacturing Australia and fellow industry group the Plastics and Chemicals Industry Association cite the abundance of gas reserves in Australia. It is argues that these will be exported to gas poor Asian countries at the expense of local users.
“Why should Australia pay Korea and Japanese prices for its domestic gas?” Andrew Liveris, head of Dow Chemical, asked the ABC.
“The Australian domestic consumer should see the benefit of abundant supply.”
Australian-born Liveris, based in the US, points to the US example in energy policy.
“On gas, the department of energy, by rule of law, has something called the public interest,” he said.
“It will not export gas if it's not in the public interest so the debates that are going on in the United States right now is how much of the gas to let loose.”
The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association is a critic of intervention in the sector, claiming this would be a reversion to 1960s-era protectionism.
"What we have from Manufacturing Australia is a protectionist proposal, which is trying to have gas supplied at lower prices, at the expense of the gas production industry," said its CEO David Byers.