ADJOURNMENT - Capral Aluminium
Watch Matt's speech here
Mr KEOGH (Burt) (12:33): Earlier this month I had the opportunity to visit Capral Aluminium, an Australian nationwide manufacturer and stockholder of aluminium products with its Perth manufacturing base in none other than Canning Vale in the electorate of Burt. As a manufacturer that has been operating since 1936, you could say: they know aluminium.
Capral Aluminium is Australia's largest manufacturer and distributor of aluminium products into the marine, defence, transport and building industries. They are dedicated to local industry and produce aluminium products of the highest standards. One of their major clients is Austal ships, an Australian shipbuilder and defence prime contractor, operating around the world and based in Henderson in the south of Perth. Capral is a specialist supplier of aluminium products for the ships Austal build that are commissioned not only for our defence operations but also for our neighbours.
Capral has a longstanding relationship not only with Austal but with a number of other key defence contractors, including Civmec engineering and BAE Industries. Capral are passionate about supplying the market with quality product in Australia. It's in our sovereign interest, but it goes further than that. Without a thriving Australian manufacturing industry, job opportunities and the future of work for all Australians is compromised. We must do more to support our locally owned and operated businesses like Capral to get and maintain defence industry contracts as well as commercial work more generally. The primary concern is dealing with issues surrounding the dumping of aluminium from overseas suppliers here in Australia, which can undercut businesses like Capral and others.
Until recently, Australia's aluminium industry has been highly profitable. As a major producer of the key aluminium ingredient bauxite, there is no reason why Australia shouldn't have its own profitable aluminium industry all the way down the manufacturing chain. The value of these supply chains is evident in the Australian aluminium industry, from mining through to refining and the manufacture of aluminium itself. This continued integration of aluminium producers in Australia, together with a fulsome value-adding capability, is just as important. We cannot allow the loss of these value-adding aluminium industries, depriving our economy of capturing any of the value in downstream processing of bauxite into aluminium.
Capral are also a major aluminium supplier for industry—for example, they produce many of the window and door frames for the housing and construction industry in WA and around Australia. They tell me, though, that they are constantly fighting against cheaper imported products. Even businesses just down the road from where they operate have imported aluminium products from overseas—products that are cheaper not for reasons of labour cost or efficiency but because the seller is quite happy to make the loss in selling those products into Australia. There are millions of tonnes of excess aluminium globally, which means oversupply is dragging down the price and profitability here. Dumping occurs when an exporter sells goods into Australia at a price that is below the normal value of those goods, not only taking a loss themselves but, critically, undercutting Australian suppliers and producers.
While positive steps have been made to eradicate this practice, there needs to be more work done to strengthen antidumping measures. Border Force has been running a long-term investigation into companies that have been created to deliberately deceive in these areas—companies that circumvent our antidumping laws by transshipping aluminium to Australia via countries that don't currently attract our antidumping attention such as Indonesia or Singapore. It's actions like this that undercut local industry like Capral. It needs to be stopped. We can't ignore these issues.
Current requirements to have industry content in Defence procurement that is local are a positive thing. They're extremely important to expanding businesses across Australia, not just those like Capral that are producing the raw materials but those that are involved in putting those materials together to create essential capability for Australia that we can also export to the world. It's only through that industry that we can provide steadiness against potential swings and downturns that come naturally to all economies and which WA is presently experiencing in the housing and construction industry. It's why it is such a vitally important area. After all, an established defence industry sector along with other sectors such as our resources sector in Western Australia will provide certainty of employment and training for the next generation of our skilled Australian workers: our designers, engineers, tradies, labourers and everything in between.
So, on that note, we must do more to support Aussie manufacturers like Capral not only to have the capacity to construct window frames for houses but also to construct unique materials to ready our Defence Force for anything well into the future. All they ask for is a level playing field so that we can deliver it for our country, for our workers.