Manufacturing is the largest employer 46 per cent in my Western Sydney electorate.

Therefore, I should naturally be welcoming the Prime Minister’s $1bn initiative to establish an entire solar supply chain in Australia.

But I’m not. Because this is just throwing money away.

To truly be a solar manufacturing entity, Australia would need to make or participate in the making of polysilicon, wafers, cells and then assemble Australian-made panels.

To establish such capacity, we would need to invest not just $1bn but $10bn to $20bn. Even then, we would be no match for China.

China’s solar investments go into the many hundreds of billion dollars with established leadership in all elements of the entire supply chain.

Who do we think we are to think we’ll compete with a measly $1bn?

Sure, Australia’s reliance on Chinese solar panels is a concern.

But we should consider whether there are better local manufacturing solutions.

If we get this wrong, and chances are we will, then we will not only pay once but at least twice. Firstly through opportunity costs for unrealised yet more viable alternatives, and secondly by higher energy bills as Australian public customers are forced to choose the more expensive panels.

What does this tell us, then, about the Prime Minister’s announcement of the Future Made in Australia Act?

Was this another one of those clickbait or headline-grabbing announcements without any substance or details?

Chances are it was, since the Future Made in Australia Act is neither enacted nor backed by a budget.

What does work though?

Looking at our domestic industry base I note that there are many small yet highly capable manufacturers in my electorate, and I observe that the situation is not too dissimilar in many of my colleagues’ electorates.

Rather than trying to make headlines with a few shiny, big announcements, I would like to see more meaningful ways to help our many capable yet small manufacturers getting a leg up.

That one is not for headlines.

That one is for legacy.

Dai Le is the Federal Member for Fowler

(This appeared in Daily Telegraph, Sydney)