To kickstart economy, build with Australian products, says AWU head

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Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash

Australia could kickstart its post-Covid economy with 53,000 new jobs simply by ensuring new infrastructure is built with Australian manufactured products, like Australian steel, according to the Australian Workers’ Union.

AWU National Secretary Daniel Walton is calling on all Australian governments to commit to procuring Australian steel and other products for upcoming infrastructure builds.

AWU economists estimate that ensuring 90% of the steel, aluminium, glass, cement and other heavy manufacturing items used on major government projects was Australian would pump $3.5 billion into the economy.

“Government is now set to stimulate the economy by spending huge money on infrastructure. We need to make sure we get a double bite at the economic cherry and back Australian jobs,” Mr Walton said.

“Australians make high quality products and we do so efficiently. But unlike other countries, we don’t make any special efforts to back our own. If we do that we actually strengthen our sovereign capability, that is our capacity to stand on our own two feet and produce what we need domestically,” Mr Walton said.

“Australians make high quality products and we do so efficiently. But unlike other countries, we don’t make any special efforts to back our own. If we do that we actually strengthen our sovereign capability”
— Daniel Walton, National Secretary, Australian Workers’ Union

He said the country needs to maintain cordial trade relations with China, but shouldn’t rely on Beijing for things they could be producing for themselves. “Covid has shown supply chains are unreliable when nations are competing against each other,” he said.

“We keep getting the situation where some anonymous number cruncher in the public service identifies a one dollar saving from buying Chinese steel and, as a result, 53,000 Australians miss out on jobs and billions in investment. It’s madness. We have the capacity in this country to produce most of the steel, aluminium, cement, and glass we need to build our own infrastructure. We just need government to back Australians,” Mr Walton said.

He believes that manufacturing happens in suburbs—the areas that are crying out for quality blue collar jobs.

“Our leaders should be telling the petty bean counters to take a break, we’ll be backing local jobs from here on in. The fact is that most of the costs savings are illusions anyway once you take quality and reliability into account.”


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