Imported Steel Costing Australian Taxpayers

Illawarra MPs Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones have renewed their call for the federal Government to do more to secure the future of Australian-made steel.

It follows a submission from the Illawarra Business Chamber to the Senate Economics Committee’s inquiry into The future of Australia’s steel industry, which argues that a strong local steel industry makes economic sense.

It reinforces what the Labor MPs have been saying for quite some time – there is a cost to the economy overall if steel is allowed to collapse due to government inertia.

The submission notes that:

  • Steel imported from overseas can place cost burdens on the purchaser where the product is poorly manufactured.
  • This costs the economy – and the public – as a whole as it has the capacity to compromise major projects. 

Sharon Bird said that governments had to think in the long-term when it comes to the steel industry. 

“Domestic manufacturers including the BlueScope steelworks meet strict standards to produce a superior product. This does come at a price, but the involvement of locally-made steel in infrastructure projects is a winning strategy in the long run. 

“The steel industry is also an essential job creator; the IBC’s CEO Debra Murphy acknowledges that it indirectly creates up to five jobs for every direct job it generates. 

“Industry Minister Christopher Pyne needs to finally visit the Illawarra and maximise opportunities for local steel producers like BlueScope.” 

Stephen Jones said that Coalition ministers needed to stop talking about themselves and pay closer attention to the future of Australian steel. 

“The Government must explore strategies to ensure Australian made steel is at the front of the queue when it comes to large-scale government infrastructure projects. 

“They must also promise not to repeal or weaken the Australian Jobs Act. This will enable the Australian Industry Participation Authority to get on with its jobs and be safe in the knowledge that the rules it is responsible for enforcing stay in place. 

“Enough talk, it’s finally time for action from an absent-minded Government that seems distracted by something shiny and new every other day. The Turnbull Government needs to listen carefully to the Illawarra Business Chamber and work harder to support Australian steel.”