The first of the ASI's Fabricator Forums to be held in Canberra attracted a record number of members drawn by concern over the industry’s current plight.

The Fabricator Forum was held on 13 September as the main breakout session of the ASI’s annual Convention.

Steel fabricators and processors represent a major segment of Australia’s downstream steel industry.

Over 70 of these small to medium enterprise (SME) company members travelled to Canberra from all across Australia to express their concerns about deteriorating order books and loss of jobs at a time of relative prosperity and activity in the Australian project projects market.

Forum organiser, the ASI’s National Manager Marketing, David Ryan said strong support was shown for the ASI’s Australian Industry Participation Plan (AIPP) policy proposal to bolster fairer consideration of Australian steel content in major mining and infrastructure development projects.

“Notable was the presence of a number of major downstream manufactures at the Forum who have recently invested in world-class efficiencies in their manufacturing plants,” Mr Ryan said.

A common sentiment amongst many fabricators at the Forum was that their Australian steel workshops are on par with some of the world’s most advanced.

“We travel extensively and see the production facilities and work practices overseas, including China and we know we can match the best in equipment and eclipse most countries with our skills, quality, safety and training here,” one prominent Australian fabricator said.

Another cited a recent example of steel plate quoted from China being cheaper painted than bare as the suppliers told him they get more subsidy for value-added product.

“We realise that we are constrained within a more tightly legislated environment and with the impost of the high Australian dollar but we shouldn’t have to compete with unfair competition on top of that,” he said.

At the Convention leading environmental performance awards were presented to four downstream steel processors, Monks-Harper, Rondo, Manuele Engineering and Combell Steelfab. The criterion was excellence under Green Building Council of Australia requirements for the ASI Environmental Sustainability Charter.