The ASI has welcomed key elements of NSW Labor’s Secure and Sustainable Steel Jobs Package announced yesterday as recognising the range of flow-on benefits for the State’s economy from major infrastructure projects engaging strongly with the local steel industry.

Chief Executive, Tony Dixon said it is sensible that the Labor policy package prescribes more meaningful recognition of ‘whole of life’ factors in Government procurement decisions and assessments for major public works projects.

“It is encouraging that a number of the measures outlined in the package align well with recommendations we have made in our representations to NSW Labor politicians in recent times toward a fuller appreciation of the value of Australian steel and steelwork,” he said.

“Engaging with the local industry provides a range of benefits beyond simply considering upfront cost in terms of more responsive supply, better industry skills retention and tax revenue.”

Mr Dixon cited in particular the Party’s commitment to appointing a dedicated Steel Industry Advocate who would be tasked with ensuring steel for major projects complies with Australian standards and help the local industry to better align its capabilities to major project opportunities in the pipeline.

“The ability to anticipate major demand for steelwork going forward would bolster confidence and encourage the local industry to invest further to upgrade existing capability,” he said.

“And in specifying a coordinating role for the Advocate, the package takes in a supply chain-wide approach to optimising opportunities for local steel which is an important consideration for streamlining project delivery.

“Other States are already implementing similar policy changes with South Australia appointing its own industry advocate, revising its local participation policy and supporting compliance measures, whilst the Victorian Government has strengthened its own local participation rules and looking to do more in an effort to support local skills, grow the economy and create jobs.”

He also noted that many of the main elements of the NSW package are in accord with federal Labor’s Six Point plan for Metals Manufacturing released a month ago.

“With Federal Government funding of major State infrastructure developments common, it is clearly in the national interest that procurement policies are harmonised as much as possible to cut costly ‘red tape’ and encourage contracting across State borders.”