The ASI has welcomed Federal Labor’s election pledge this week of $100 million for the Whyalla steelworks as a one-off initiative to help facilitate longer-term investment so the nation has a competitive and sustainable long product supplier in Australia.
ASI Chief Executive, Tony Dixon said that with the ‘perfect storm’ of adverse economic conditions working against local steel production currently, it was a reasonable proposition for some support in the immediate term to allow steelmaker, Arrium to trade out of trouble and attract quality investment.
“We support initiatives that ultimately contribute to the sustainability of the industry and are optimistic that these measures will help Arrium find a future owner who is committed to the local industry,” he said.
He said that whilst the current global steel supply glut impacts the entire steel value chain, it has been most pronounced in Whyalla where the steel industry has a substantial footprint within a State also contending with the downturn in mining and automotive manufacturing.
And going beyond immediate issues, Mr Dixon said it would be more economically sound for policymakers to continue to strengthen measures that create a more conducive environment for the local industry to be given full, fair and reasonable opportunity to supply major developments.
“In addition to these immediate concerns, governments should face up to the need to make sure the underlying conditions are set to give the whole industry the chance to compete on a free and fair basis,” he said.
“To this end we continue to call for support from all side of politics for our policy recommendations addressing structural issues in Australian Government procurement. ahead of the 2016 election.”
He said that those recommendations basically amounted to:
• Giving greater weighting for the economic and social value-add of engaging the local industry in Government procurement.
• Upholding the provisions of the Australian Jobs Act 2013 in providing transparency and fairer treatment for local industry.
• Acknowledging the importance of quality that mitigates project risks through the application of Australian Standards and third party accreditation.
• Ensuring that Australian antidumping regulations are robust and at least the equal of other like countries to stem unfair trade.