Government urged to manufacture protective workwear in Australia to guarantee supply and safety.
The national body for ethical textile, clothing and footwear manufacturing will today urge the Federal Government to ensure all Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is made onshore by ethically-accredited businesses to prevent potential safety and security risks, and to protect workers from exploitation.
Angela Bell, the National Manager of Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA), and ECA committee representatives, will appear at an Inquiry of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade to recommend that the same rules applied to the ADF’s standard combat uniform be applied to all PPE sold in Australia.
“We want to see the same commonwealth procurement rules that are in place for the standard combat uniform worn by Australian Defence Force members for PPE in the future to protect essential workers and secure local supply chains,” Ms Bell said.
Ms Bell will also urge the Committee to view ethical supply chains as non-negotiable now and post COVID-19.
“The government should put in place parameters to ensure it is not working with businesses that exploit workers or engage in modern slavery,” said Ms Bell.
“Having these products made locally and by an ECA-accredited manufacturer would minimise any such risks for the government.”
“When the pandemic hit, there were significant shortages of PPE, and we saw products that were not fit for purpose being produced and imported,” Ms Bell said.
“Had the production of these items already been procured onshore by our governments, then the crisis and concern about the supply of PPE would have been a relative non-issue.”
“The fact that Australia was heavily reliant on overseas supply chains to respond to PPE needs presented a significant risk and it will do so in the future if we don’t bring manufacturing of a minimum number of PPE items onshore.”