Australia relies on China for 90 per cent of the imports of one technology ‘crucial’ to the country’s future.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor has been grilled over Australia’s over-reliance on China for one of the most important technologies to the country’s future.
More than 90 per cent of Australia’s imported solar panels come from China, and around 80 per cent of panels in Australia overall are Chinese made.
Solar is considered a crucial technology to Australia’s future and the primary energy source that will power Aussie homes as the nation hurtles towards net zero emissions.
But 2GB host Ben Fordham was quick to point out the dangerous position this now puts Australia in given China’s proven willingness to weaponise trade ties to try to manipulate other countries’ political behaviour.
In 2020, China slapped eye-watering tariffs of up to 218 per cent on Aussie wine exports in retaliation to Australia’s ban on Huawei from the rollout of 5G and the government’s calls for an investigation into the origins of Covid-19.
“When are we going to start making them here? This is Aussie technology, but now 90 per cent of the panels we buy come from China,” Fordham asked.
The Energy Minister agreed, declaring boosting the local manufacturing of solar is a “core focus” of the federal government.
“This is a big focus. We‘ve prioritised solar technology as a crucial technology for Australia,” Mr Taylor said.
“We’ve got the highest rate of household solar in the world in Australia. We want to see more manufacturing in Australia.”
But when asked to elaborate on the government’s plan to increase local production of solar panels, the Energy Minister was vague.
“You gave $33m last week towards locally manufactured foods, so how much money are you going to throw at solar?” Fordham asked.
Mr Taylor said the government was “still working that through”.
“There’s no doubt that we’ve already thrown a significant amount at solar in this country and salary search in manufacturing and will continue to in the coming years,” he said.
“We do have a local producer in South Australia – Tindo – and I strongly encourage people to support that local manufacturer.”
Solar panel installations are expected to increase fourfold over this decade, accounting for almost half of Australia’s total energy capacity by 2030.