View Comments
Shorten in to bat for Alcoa
Bill Shorten at Challenger Beach, Kwinana, yesterday. Picture: Steve Ferrier/The West Australian

Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says companies such as Alcoa on the Kwinana industrial strip need "necessary support" to ensure Australian manufacturing jobs are kept.

But he has denied the carbon tax is a big concern for Alcoa, WA's biggest single customer of natural gas and a company with one of the biggest carbon tax liabilities in the State.

Mr Shorten visited Alcoa's Kwinana alumina refinery yesterday as part of talks with WA companies, including CBH, Woodside Petroleum, Shell and Roy Hill.

He accused Prime Minister Tony Abbott of "giving up" on Holden's Australian manufacturing operations and said the Government had to do "what it can to ensure we keep jobs in Australia in the Kwinana strip".

Asked if abolishing the carbon tax would be a means of support, Mr Shorten said: "An examination of any of the public statements by Alcoa shows that carbon has not been an issue for them.

"We provided a support for our emissions-intensive trade exposed sector tax of 95 per cent offsetting the carbon price. So carbon is not the issue which keeps Alcoa up at night," he said.

"What keeps Alcoa up at night is access to energy, the price of aluminium on the global market and the high Australian dollar."

Labor remains opposed to abolishing the carbon tax and Mr Abbott has hinted at "constitutional options" - widely read to mean a double-dissolution election - if the new Senate does not agree to scrap the tax after July 1.

Mr Shorten said talk of a double-dissolution election was a magic trick designed to divert attention from the Government's troubles.