The ASI is concerned by comments by the Western Australian Premier, Colin Barnett reported recently encouraging greater Chinese involvement in the Oakajee Port development.

The ASI is calling on the Premier to ensure the State gets a fair return from the substantial local stake associated with the project. “We should not forget that the Federal and WA Governments have invested over $700 million in Oakajee,” said ASI National Manager – Industry Development, Ian Cairns. “The WA Government is aware that the local steel fabrication and heavy engineering sectors are at tipping point and this approach could cost many hundreds of highly skilled jobs. Let’s not forget that the resources shipped out of the port are ‘Australian’ also, but that exporting the bulk of the work too may well mean losing a substantial part of the State’s skills base forever.”

The ASI urges Premier Barnett and the WA Government to prescribe minimum levels of local capability as is the case in places like Canada and closer to home, Victoria. “We press the Premier to show leadership on this project and announce minimum levels of local content, and not just for ‘incontestable’ earthworks, to help balance the millions of taxpayer dollars committed and impart some confidence in local industry capability.” He also cited a recent well documented case in Canada’s Newfoundland Province where minimum levels of local content were mandated by that Government in the form of minimum amount of man hours specifically in steel fabrication and design that still benefited from foreign investment. “Australian industry is just asking our ‘fair share’ so this can be a win/win situation for all concerned,” he said.

Contact:

Name: Ian Cairns
Phone: +61 3 9694 4499
Email: ianc@steel.org.au