Australia’s peak industry body for steel urges the Australian Government to allow Australian steel detailers, designers, fabricators, galvanisers, manufacturers and distributors first preference for any Government sponsored or funded project work to flow from its proposed economic stimulus package.

The call from the Australian Steel Institute (ASI), which represents sectors across the entire steel supply value chain, builds on strong calls from Australian unions for the Rudd Government’s stimulus package to do what it is designed to do - that is support the Australian economy by maintaining skills and employment in Australia. The ASI calls for the Federal and State Governments to recognise the relationship between Government infrastructure spending to stimulate the economy and taking advantage of the Australian steel industry’s capability and capacity by adopting an Australian Jobs First preferential policy.

Movements of a similar nature are becoming apparent globally with manufacturers and steel associations in the US making similar calls on the US Government. A clause that requires American steel to be used in all infrastructure projects has already passed the House of Representatives. “More Australians are now expected to lose their jobs as the economic downturn savages business with the employment rate now forecast to decrease at an alarming rate over the next few years,” said ASI’s Chief Executive, Don McDonald. “If the Government is to support the 90,000 jobs quoted by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in his economic stimulus package on 3 February, we must move on these Australian Jobs First provisions immediately.”

Research completed by the Industry Capability Network found that for every A$1 million of new or retained manufacturing business, 18 fulltime jobs are created. The Australian steel industry has been one of the earliest hit by the current economic downturn. To this end, the ASI supports greater spending in the steel construction sector, already impacted deeply by the global financial crisis as this will provide immediate economic stimulus and job security.

“To maximise the efficiency of the infrastructure stimulus package and to offset the reduction in taxation revenues already announced by the Government, it is essential that the Australian Jobs First provision be introduced as it will return on average $317,900 of tax revenue for every $1 million spent and also save $211,700 in welfare payments arising from job losses. “The Australian Jobs First policy would not ban imports, but simply make a preference provision to spend Australian taxpayers’ money on saving jobs in Australia. This is not an attack on the ‘level playing field’ platform which the ASI supports but a requirement that all Government infrastructure expenditure in the stimulus package should maximise job security throughout the vital steel industry chain and preserve capability gains in recent years from heavy investment in new technologies.”


Name: Ian Cairns
Phone: +61 3 9694 4499