News | 1st May, 2013

Jobless queue grows as turbine work slows

1 May 2013
Everard Himmerleich, Warrnambool Standard
JASON Bannam has seen lots of workmates laid off from jobs at Portland wind tower manufacturer Keppel Prince and does not want to join them.
Mr Bannam, 37, of Portland, has worked as a welder at Keppel Prince for the past seven years and is concerned that restrictions on where wind farms can be built will cost him his livelihood.

A few years ago Keppel Prince employed 120 people but that number has since dropped to 65 — a fall the company blames on laws introduced in 2011 that tightened up the rules about where wind farms could be located.

Mr Bannam, married with two young children, said he had seen many of those laid off from Keppel Prince leave Portland to take up other jobs.
Many businesses, such as Portland’s Mitre 10, had closed down, Mr Bannam said. “There is a spare shop every third or fourth shop.”

The city’s population had dropped from more than 12,000 a few years ago to below 10,000, he said.

He hoped his children would be able to work in Portland when they grew up but many young people were leaving to get employment.

Keppel Prince production supervisor Stuart Batten said he had a 19-year-old son who was having no luck finding work.

Mr Batten said Keppel Prince had only three months’ work on its books for its remaining workforce.
His workforce wanted good government policy to return certainty to the wind farm industry or “the business will not be there.”

Mr Batten said Keppel Prince’s wind turbine towers had gone to wind farms in Victoria, South Australia and NSW but orders had dried up because of the market uncertainty.

Both Mr Bannam and Mr Batten were among a delegation of wind energy supporters who yesterday delivered a joint statement to Premier Denis Napthine’s Warrnambool electorate office.

It called for the scrapping of the two-kilometre veto zone for residents near wind farms and the end to a number of designated no-go areas for wind farms throughout the state.
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