Noel Cornish to tackle new challenge

BlueScope Steel's former Australian and New Zealand steel manufacturing businesses chief executive Noel Cornish is planning to make a difference in his new role as the national president of the Australian Industry Group.

After being elected to the role at Ai Group's annual general meeting in Melbourne the Wollongong resident, who grew up around the steelworks in Newcastle before spending the later part of his career at Port Kembla, said it was an important time for industry.

"I take on the position at a time when, despite some green shoots in the economy, many of our members remain under enormous competitive pressure," Mr Cornish said.

"Manufacturers in particular are facing considerable headwinds due to the combined impacts of the strong dollar, intense competition from the emerging economies, a legacy low productivity growth, relatively high unit labour costs and considerably higher energy prices.

"While there are very exciting opportunities - particularly in the growing markets of Asia - taking advantage of these will require a new phase of investment and innovation," Mr Cornish said.

Mr Cornish believed the recent change of government in Canberra presented an opportunity for a fresh start but emphasised the Ai Group was non-political and primarily focused on representing the interests of its members.

"We will continue to argue the need for strategies and policies that promote a balanced and diversified growth path that reduces the risks to national well-being associated with our heavier reliance on the export of a handful of commodities to a handful of countries," he said.

"Among our urgent priorities are the repeal of the carbon tax and the implementation of its replacement policy and further workplace reform to boost productivity."

He presently sits on the boards of Snowy Hydro Limited, IMB Limited and Forestry Corporation NSW.

He is also a member of the governing council of Wollongong University.

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