Soaring energy prices could force Brickworks to shift its manufacturing overseas and end more than a century of making bricks in Australia.
The company’s recent negotiations to secure gas supply until the end of 2019 have resulted in a 76 per cent price increase across its east coast operations, illustrating the challenges facing many manufacturers, chairman Robert Millner said.
“We never thought that after 108 years of making bricks in Australia, we would now need to investigate manufacturing overseas,” he said.
Mr Millner accused governments of failing to develop an effective policy to address domestic energy supply, despite repeated warnings from industry.
“Frustratingly, some governments seem intent on exacerbating the issue, even if that means the lights will go out in houses and factories across the country,” he said.
The export of Australia’s gas was jeopardising the jobs of thousands of brickmakers and bricklayers in Australia, Mr Millner said.
“When committing to ship Australia’s gas overseas, the exporters assumed they could meet production requirements from their own reserves,” he said.
“A ban should be put in place preventing them from covering their shortfalls by buying third-party gas from assets that have traditionally served the domestic market.”
Mr Millner also said governments should improve the regulation of Australia’s gas pipeline infrastructure and ensure appropriate incentives for new investment.
In the longer term, Australia needs to make exploration and development easier and get more suppliers into the market, he added.
“A failure to act will continue to risk manufacturers moving offshore or increasing imports at the expense of local production and Australian jobs.”