Media release: NSW Parliament must act to save our steel industry

Media Release

8 April 2016

With the potential collapse of the Whyalla steelworks, the NSW Parliament must act to legislate a local steel procurement policy to ensure the viability of the Port Kembla steelworks, a facility that contributes $3.3 billion to the Illawarra and NSW economy each year.

This means passing the Steel Industry Protection Bill 2016. The purpose of the bill which was introduced in March is to secure a future for steel-making at Port Kembla in the Illawarra by mandating that government infrastructure projects use locally manufactured steel.

The Greens Bill is gaining support inside and outside Parliament and we will seek to have a vote on this bill in May to ensure that steel used in public construction projects comes from Australian sources. This will ensure the ongoing viability and strategic capacity of the industry in NSW.

Greens MP and Industrial Relations spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

“The potential collapse of steelmaking in Whyalla shows why NSW Parliament can’t delay and must immediately legislate for local steel procurement.

“We want to bring the bill on for a vote in May when Parliament returns. The steel industry in this State can’t wait any longer.

“The NSW Parliament has an opportunity to lead the way, and an obligation to adopt this as a template for procurement bills around the country to protect our steel industry.

“This is not a radical piece of legislation. It is based on existing law in Pennsylvania and Illinois, where they have successfully implemented procurement policy protecting their steel industry.

“Implementing a public sector procurement policy like the one proposed in this bill is a cost effective measure that would provide certainty for the local industry.

“The cost of saving a few dollars by buying steel dumped on the Australian market by international companies is being paid by workers, their families and the communities who will all suffer if the domestic industry is allowed to fail.

“Here in NSW for instance, the CBD and South East Light Rail project is using steel imported from Spain, rather than the high quality product produced here at Port Kembla in the Illawarra.

“The last remaining blast furnace at Port Kembla is at risk of closure due to a downturn in international steel prices and ‘dumping’ of below cost steel by foreign manufacturers. We can’t sit idly by and let this happen,” Mr Shoebridge said.

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