The ASI has welcomed initiatives announced at the Jobs Summit on 6 October to make major projects benefiting from taxpayer dollars more accountable for their procurement through the Australian Industry Participation Plan (AIPP) process.

In particular, the ASI embraces Prime Minister, Julia Gillard’s announcement about “making major federal grants of $20 million or more, including grants to the States and Territories, contingent on maximising opportunities for Australian businesses”.

This is well in line with policy proposals the ASI has been advocating to the Government and Opposition for many months to help ensure that the nation gets a fairer return from major projects, and regards its acceptance by the unions and Australian Government as a positive signal and a major step in the right direction.

“We are also encouraged that the AIPPs will be more transparent. This is all about making sure that project proponents are up front about exactly what level of Australian industry content is contained in their projects,” said ASI National Manager – Industry Development, Ian Cairns.

The ASI also welcomes moves to require project developments receiving the five percent tariff exemption on imports through the Enhanced Project By-law Scheme (EPBS) to publish more details on opportunities available to Australian businesses.

“There clearly needs to be more detail and transparency injected into the EPBS process to help ensure entitlements under this scheme are justified and the Government has said that will happen,” Mr Cairns said.

He said there is still a way to go to help balance the books for local industry dealing with a high percentage of imported fabricated steelwork coming from economies that do not operate by the same open market rules as Australia.

“There are still a number of non-protectionist things that can be done to level the skewed playing field in keeping with our WTO and FTA obligations. Encouraging our major trading partners to have an open, market based currency should be a priority.”