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Government working with industry on hand sanitiser production

23 March 2020

The Federal Government is working closely with Australian industry to further ramp up local manufacturing of hand sanitiser amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said manufacturers had already significantly increased their output and more was being done to grow that even further.

“I want to stress to Australians that we have the capacity and the raw ingredients here to continue to meet the increased demand,” Minister Andrews said.

“Industry, with the help of government, is stepping up to meet the challenges being thrown at us by this virus.

“Our Government will continue to do what it takes to ensure supply and increase domestic production of medical protection equipment – from sanitiser to masks to ventilators.

“We also need the community to play their part by not stockpiling. There is no need for people to have huge volumes of hand sanitiser at home.”

Ego Pharmaceuticals makes Aqium sanitiser at its factory in Melbourne. Managing Director Alan Oppenheim said they’ve drastically increased how much they make.

“In February we made five times what we forecast and our factory is now running 24 hours a day, five days a week,” Mr Oppenheim said.

“We’re currently hiring to increase that to six days a week and we’ve stopped our little bit of exporting to prioritise Australian needs.”

Minister Andrews said the Government had also worked with manufacturers to ensure supply of ethanol – one of the key ingredients in hand sanitiser.

“Our large ethanol producers have indicated they have capacity to make more pharmaceutical grade ethanol as needed.

“We have been helping to connect these producers with our hand sanitiser manufacturers, and manufacturers are already placing new and increased orders.”

Manildra Group is Australia’s leading producer of ethanol and its Managing Director John Honan said the company was rising to the challenge.

“As a family-owned Australian business we continue to locally produce ethanol, and we’re committed to operating our manufacturing facilities around the clock to meet demand,” Mr Honan said.

Minister Andrews will host a roundtable via teleconference this week to further identify opportunities to increase supply and make sure we’re optimising our domestic production capacity of hand sanitiser.

Media contact: Minister Andrews' office 02 6277 7070