Jobs could be lost

TREASURER Wayne Swan has distanced himself from activists who argue there would be a global environmental gain from sending Australia's aluminium industry offshore.

Wannon MP Dan Tehan brought the activists' claims to Mr Swan's attention during parliamentary question time on Wednesday.

A fact sheet prepared by the Australian Conservation Foundation, Australian Youth Climate Coalition, Environment Victoria and Greenpeace cites a 2010 Grattan Institute report that found the nation's aluminium smelting trade produces about twice as much pollution as the world industry average.

The same report asserted that Alcoa's Australian smelters at both Portland and Point Henry generated three times the volume of greenhouse gases per tonne of aluminium produced than that of their foreign counterparts.

"As a result, if Alcoa's aluminium smelting did go overseas there would be a direct environmental benefit, even if the same quantity of aluminium was produced," the PolluterWatch fact sheet reads.

Mr Tehan asked Mr Swan whether he agreed that relocating Australia's aluminium industry to countries that did not impose a carbon tax would help reduce global emissions.

"No" the Treasurer replied. Mr Tehan said it was important that Mr Swan backed his words with action.

"The last thing Portland Aluminium needs is a carbon tax, and (Mr Swan) needs to ensure that local jobs will not be lost overseas if the carbon tax is implemented," he said.

"Introducing a carbon tax will do nothing to reduce emissions, but it will hit local manufacturing jobs hard.

"The Treasurer is now on the record � he believes sending Australia's manufacturing jobs overseas will do nothing to help the environment and I will be holding him to account on this."

aweaver@standard.fairfax.com.au

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