LIBERALS MUST ACT TO ENSURE LONG TERM VIABILITY OF STEEL INDUSTRY

Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones today welcomed the release of the Senate Economics References Committee’s final report into the future of Australia’s steel industry.

During the inquiry, the Committee visited Wollongong and heard evidence from BlueScope Australia and New Zealand, Bisalloy Steel Group Limited, the Australian Workers’ Union, the South Coast Labour Council, the University of Wollongong, Wollongong City Council and The Illawarra Business Chamber.  The Committee also conducted a site visit at BlueScope Steel at Port Kembla.

The Committee’s report contains 28 recommendations including:

  • Maximise the use of locally made steel in Commonwealth funded projects. 
  • Implement policy that reduces energy costs and secures energy supply for manufacturers
  • Strengthen Australia’s anti-dumping regime by ensuring it is adequately resourced; transferring responsibility for safeguards measures to the anti‑dumping commission; allowing applicants to nominate the form of duty to be applied; reforming the anti-dumping handbook; and improving access to data for companies seeking to access the system.
  • Improve certification processes for structural and fabricated steel and harmonise standards between jurisdictions and regulatory bodies.
  • Develop a confidential reporting mechanism for non-conforming building products; impose stricter penalties for non-conforming or fraudulent materials and the establishment of a public database to register these products and their origins.
  • Improve Australian industry participation in major projects by adequately resourcing Australia’s Industry Participation Authority; reviewing the thresholds for AIP plans and restoring the requirement for those plans to be completed during (rather than following) the tender process.
  • Develop an overarching steel policy. 
  • Establish a national steel supplier advocate.
  • Ensure that the Commonwealth Procurement Rules are effectively implemented
  • Convene a national steel forum comprised of representatives from industry, government and other stakeholders to investigate the establishment of an industry-managed steel compliance scheme to conduct random independent conformity inspections.  

Sharon Bird said that Labor has always backed the steel industry in the Illawarra and have always delivered in tough times – unlike the Liberal Government.

“During the steel crisis’ in 2010/2011, Labor brought a Steel Plan and funding to the Illawarra.  During the steel crisis in 2014, the Liberal Government made promises to locals but didn’t deliver.  Today’s report reflects much of Labor’s Steel Plan that we took to the 2016 election – when again the Liberals put forward nothing.

“After Malcolm Turnbull’s disastrous visit this week, I hope he finally pulls his head out of the sand and takes action to ensure the long term viability of our steel industry in the Illawarra.

Stephen Jones said the Prime Minister was keen to use the Steel Works as a backdrop for a press conference last week.

“He could show a real commitment to the steel industry and local jobs by adopting the recommendations in this report in full.”

A copy of the report and its recommendations can be found here.