The domestic steel industry is vital to Australia’s economy. Steel is a key ingredient in infrastructure and construction, manufacturing, mining and agriculture. Not only does it form the backbone of the Australian economy, it plays a vital role in nation-building.
A vibrant Australian steel industry and supply chain ensure a secure, consistent, safe and high-quality supply of steel products for everything from roads and bridges to skyscrapers, houses, hospitals and schools. A competitive, independent and self-sufficient steel supply chain is a vital strategic asset.
Australia’s steel industry is innovative and sophisticated, an important component of our advanced manufacturing capability, and supports the transition to a more diversified, high-value-adding sustainable economy.
The Australian steel supply chain employs over 100,000 people in manufacturing, processing, fabrication, specialist engineering, finishing, distribution and installation and generates revenues in the order of $29 billion annually.
The Australian Steel Institute (ASI) is the steel industry’s voice, championing its many attributes and assisting in driving the prosperity of the industry. As the peak body for the businesses engaged in steel manufacture, fabrication, distribution and erection, the ASI advocates for better and fairer conditions across the steel sector and for the benefit of all.
The ASI’s key advocacy platforms are made up of:
The Economy: Good economic management is good for steel. The ASI supports strong management of the economy: a well-managed economy delivers economic growth, creating a positive environment for investment in infrastructure, commercial and residential construction, manufacturing, mining and agriculture – all of which depend on a robust, dynamic domestic steel manufacturing base and supply chain.
Infrastructure: Investment in nation-building infrastructure will drive steel use. Australia’s rapid population growth is putting pressure on our already stretched infrastructure. Around the nation, Australia’s roads, rail, airports, energy generation, hospitals and schools are at or are approaching capacity. Failure or delays from state and Commonwealth governments to adequately invest in these vital infrastructure assets inhibits Australia’s economy from operating at its full potential. The ASI supports initiatives from governments at a state and national level to accelerate investment in Australia’s infrastructure to free up economic, industrial, agricultural and business growth and to improve the lives of ordinary Australians.
Local content procurement: Australian-made steel has a positive impact on the nation’s economy and society, including through its contribution to employment, investment, taxation revenue and the nation’s trade balance. The ASI believes that Australian governments have an opportunity to boost the Australian economy with government procurement guidelines that recognise the economic and social impact of the domestic steel supply chain. Procurement of locally produced and fabricated steel creates employment for up to six workers in related industries for every one within the steel industry, delivering dividends across the economy in the form of increased taxation, reduced welfare costs and increased consumption. Whole-of-life costs are a significant advantage of local procurement compared with imported steel, with products produced and certified to Australian Standards, supported by warranties and with superior environmental performance.
Quality, productivity and safety: Compliance and third-party certification are critical for national productivity and safety. Australia’s steel supply chain benefits by differentiating its products on the basis of quality. Compliance with Australian Standards, independent certification and traceability provide assurances in terms of quality, safety in manufacture, installation, fit-for-purpose performance and durability. The ASI believes that Australia’s state and Commonwealth procurement policies should mandate the supply of steel products and services that comply with relevant Australian Standards, are independently certified by the Australian Certification Authority for Reinforcing and Structural Steels (ACRS) and that fabrication work be subject to certification under the relevant Construction Category through Steelwork Compliance Australia (SCA).
Anti-dumping: The ASI supports Australia’s compliance with WTO anti-dumping guidelines and the application of a robust and dynamic anti-dumping regime. We support free and fair trade and believe in the rules-based system underpinned by WTO protocols that support global trade. Australia needs to maintain a system that is the equivalent of comparable nations. The best way forward for Australia is for industry and government to work cooperatively to apply economic policies and secure optimal international trade outcomes.
Skills and vocational training: Australia’s future economic prosperity depends on its development of a highly skilled workforce capable of building globally competitive industrial and commercial enterprises. Investment in skills-based and vocational training is essential for the future development of Australia’s steel and allied industries, and for enabling the delivery of the infrastructure so vital to unlocking Australia’s economic potential. The ASI supports state and Commonwealth governments’ investment in training programs to equip our youth and retrain our workforce with the skills needed to maintain a globally competitive steel and wider industrial sector.
Energy: Energy pricing and supply is a critical issue for a trade-exposed industry such as Australia’s domestic steel value chain. Australia’s industry, businesses and households are being squeezed by soaring energy costs and energy supply uncertainty, dampening investment and employment and contributing to a reduction in household budgets and consumption. The ASI supports a renewed focus on the development of a coherent national energy policy framework to deliver long-term stability and investment certainty to business, and an affordable and reliable electricity supply on which our factories, businesses, schools, hospitals and homes can rely. The ASI also supports the ACCC’s 2018 reports into Australia’s electricity and gas markets, and welcomes recommendations that we hope will foster competition and bring down prices. We endorse the government’s commitment to give the ACCC an ongoing role in monitoring electricity prices and market behaviour and recommending reforms to ensure there is adequate competition.
Sustainability and the environment: Steel plays an essential role in the sustainable development of Australia’s infrastructure and built environment, a result of steel’s strength, versatility, long life cycle and endless recyclability. The ASI supports efforts to achieve genuine global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. We support the intentions of the Paris Agreement and the UN’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). Australian Steel Institute members are pursuing opportunities to improve energy efficiency in their operations, support the development of renewable energy and have set targets to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of their manufacturing processes. However, the ASI strongly advocates a fair and equitable approach to addressing climate change and highlights the non-uniformity in the application of the Paris Agreement between signatories, and the recent withdrawal of support from Paris by some economies. The ASI advocates a sectoral approach to emissions reduction, which seeks to align carbon costs across the global steel industry. In the absence of such a global approach, it is very important that governments do not apply policies that simply result in the shifting of steel production to other jurisdictions, with no reduction in global emissions.