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More than 100 south-west jobs in jeopardy as wind tower contract goes to overseas company

The jobs of about 150 south-west workers are under threat after the contract to build 52 towers for the Ryan Corner wind farm near Port Fairy went to an overseas company.

Steve Garner, the executive director of the Portland-based engineering company Keppel Prince, didn't mince his words when asked about the decision on Friday.

"I'm pissed," he said.

Mr Garner said the contract would have ensured about 12 months work for 150 employees. However, their future is now in limbo. Mr Garner said the contract to build 25 towers at the Hawkesdale wind farm had also gone to the same overseas country.

The only hope now for the workforce is to win the contract at the Woolsthorpe wind farm, a decision which is expected to be made by the end of March. Mr Garner said if the contract for that project went overseas, the future of Keppel Prince's employees would be in danger.

"We're looking at everything we can possibly do," he said.

"We won't be in a position to make any decisions on where we're going until we find out about Woolsthorpe."

Mr Garner has previously called on the federal government to ensure Australian-made materials would be used at the Ryan Corner wind farm.

"If the government is serious about creating manufacturing in Australia, here is an exact opportunity to put their money where their mouth is," he told The Standard earlier this year.

On Friday, Friends of the Earth launched a new report at Keppel Prince on the job-creation potential of Victorian climate policies.

Friends of the Earth spokesman Leigh Ewbank reiterated the group's support for local content requirements and procurement.

"When we campaigned for the state and national renewable energy policies, we were campaigning for local manufacturing jobs like those at Keppel Prince," Mr Ewbank said.

"Smart developers will look for ways to purchase locally-made components to ensure that renewable energy projects create jobs in regional towns such as Portland."

Member for South West Coast Roma Britnell said it was disappointing news.

"I raised this matter with the government in September last year," she said.

"Despite all the promises the Andrews's Labor Government's renewable energy policies would create jobs in Portland, a local manufacturing business is now laying off staff while they watch wind tower components imported from overseas travelling past the front door.

"These are components that could and should be built in Portland, but government policies have failed to ensure minimum local manufacturing and instead companies are looking for cheaper, lower quality overseas options.

"Labor has failed workers at Keppel Prince and have failed the people of Portland – they love to talk up their renewable energy projects and promised new developments would deliver jobs – but what we have seen is an absolute failure of policy that will leave 100 people out of work."