The announcement on 16 November of 250+ job losses of steel mill staff and contractors at Whyalla on top of 500+ to go from the Port Kembla NSW steelworks make it clear that this is a national issue that must go beyond State-based policy reform, according to the ASI. ASI Chief Executive, Tony Dixon said that with the Federal and State governments about to embark on the biggest publicly funded infrastructure spend in Australia’s history over the next decade, it is opportune and more important than ever for Federal and State governments to look closely at how taxpayers’ money can be spent on Government projects to maximise national flow-on economic benefits. “We are aware of many projects either fully or partly funded with taxpayers money that have routinely gone to overseas steel suppliers and fabricators, often without the local industry even being consulted.” he said. “These are steel grades produced in Australia and could be fabricated here with no shortage of recent examples that include Randwick Racecourse and Sydney Convention Centre in NSW, Longford Gas Plant in Victoria, Nyrstar Nickel Plant in South Australia, the Port of Brisbane Ferry Terminal and many more, with steel coming from China, Vietnam, Korea and even UAE. “State Government commitments vary with supportive policy frameworks in some and not in others, so we call for some urgent harmonisation in this area driven by the Minister, Christopher Pyne and his Industry Department in Canberra. “The Federal Government must ensure that all States have strong and robust local industry participation policies (LIPPs) in place that clearly support local jobs growth as a condition of any national funding and before they hand over any more funding from Canberra.” Mr Dixon pointed out that the current issues at the steel mills at the manufacturing end impact the entire downstream local supply chain mostly comprising SME sized businesses, many suffering from a lack of local demand and under-utilisation of their assets. “While it is estimated that only about 50 percent of the steelwork for Government projects is locally made, a recent BIS Shrapnel report shows the potential of LIPPs achieving 90 percent local steel supply would prove a substantial net benefit to the economy after accounting for only marginally higher public construction costs.”