Premier Denis Napthine has blamed the wind energy industry for job losses at a Victorian turbine manufacturer, attacking it for “turning their back” on workers by using offshore products.
Keppel Prince Engineering said on Thursday that it was slashing 100 jobs, attributing the move in part to uncertainty over the federal government’s plans to scale back Australia’s renewable energy target.
The company is located in Portland, which sits in Dr Napthine’s seat in the state’s south-west.
Dr Napthine said on Friday that he had argued “loud and long” for the retention of the target, preferring to put the spotlight on the wind industry for using turbines built offshore.
Earlier this year the Victorian government made a submission to the review of the renewable energy target, proposing that gas-fired power be included to help the grid cope with demand.
The government also suggested the target be scaled back because of falling demand for electricity.
“We will continue, as the Victorian government, to pursue the federal government maintaining the renewable energy target,” he said.
There have been indications that the Abbott government will move to reduce the amount of renewable energy produced by 2020 from 41,000 gigawatt hours to about 26,000.
But Dr Napthine instead preferred to attack the wind industry for not using locally made turbines like those built by Keppel Prince.
“These are the same companies that have knocked on my door as Premier … saying ‘support us for local jobs’,” he said.
He cited wind farms in Ballarat, NSW and South Australia which used imported turbines.
“That’s what I’m annoyed about, that’s what I’m angry about,” he said.
“They have lost their jobs because the wind energy industry itself turned their back on them.”
In its statement, Keppel Prince said the wind tower fabrication was a sustainable business if there was a “favourable outcome” in the renewable energy target review and a move towards local content requirements.
Wind farms are also subject to strict planning laws requiring developers to get written consent from residents living within two kilometres of proposed turbines.
Labor has promised to overturn the laws if it wins the upcoming election, saying the requirement is anti-jobs.
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