Portland a “ghost town” without renewable energy

Portland a “ghost town” without renewable energy
Keppel Prince Engineering exterior image courtesy Keppel Prince

A renewable energy target and low-cost electricity for major industries is the key to saving jobs in Portland, according to Victorian state MP James Purcell.

The Vote 1 Local Jobs MP was part of a brainstorming session in the coastal town of Portland, which included representatives from the Port of Portland, South West TAFE, Keppel Prince, Glenelg Shire, Committee for Portland, Alcoa’s Portland smelter and Training and Skills Minister Steve Herbert.

Mr Purcell said Portland would face significant economic challenges if wind turbine manufacturer Keppel Prince and aluminium producer Alcoa were to leave and he was exploring the potential for a Victorian RET.

Keppel Prince is the second largest employer in Portland, and sacked 100 workers in December citing uncertainty of the Renewable Energy Target (RET).

“If Keppel Prince and Alcoa downsize or – worst case scenario – disappear, Portland becomes a ghost town,” Mr Purcell told The Standard.

“Both these major industries need to be supported, not just from an employment perspective but also because of what they can contribute to the state and the country.”

Victorian Skills and Training Minister Steve Herbert used the south-west visit to commit funding support to Victorian group training organisations for the 2015/16 year.

The Minister said the group training industry employs 7500 apprentices and trainees across the state in all industry sectors. He said group training organisations work with local communities and employers to match young people with meaningful work.

Group Training Association of Victoria executive director Gary Workman said the funding will provide much needed support to thousands of young people looking for work within a trade across the state.

“Group training provides a safety net and flexibility for both the apprentice and the employer over the period of the apprenticeship,” Mr Workman said, as reported by The Standard.

“Australia is facing shortages of skilled workers in many areas and apprenticeships are a way of ensuring we don’t leave a generation of young people locked out of the workforce.”