Government projects must use almost 100 per cent Australian steel, according to a union involved in efforts to save the steelworks.
The Port Kembla branch of the Australian Workers Union (AWU) was one of the main players involved in negotiating a deal last year that stopped the steelworks’ gates from closing.
The union has put forward a submission to the Senate’s inquiry into the future of the country’s steel industry.
One of AWU’s key claims is governments need to increase the use of domestically-sourced steel in infrastructure products.
The submission called for “immediate actions to boost locally used steel in publicly funded construction projects from 49 per cent to 80-90 per cent”.
The submission insisted that, in conjunction with this, the mandated minimums needed better enforcement.
“Many programs administered by the government in respect to procurement standards lack oversight or enforceability and require a level of ‘good will’ from major project proponents that simply is not evident,” it stated.
“The extremely low levels of market share that domestic producers received from major resource projects during the recent mining boom highlights the need for more stringent adherence to procurement levels and standards.”
The submission also brands the federal government’s response to steel dumping as “timid” and pointed out the European Union and United States have imposed duties on imported steel.
“Australia should aim to benchmark its dumping response to the actions of other first-world steel-producing nations to ensure that there is neutrality in the trade position for surplus Chinese steel in search of export markets,” the submission stated.
A coordinated approach from all levels of government, with federal oversight was need to save the industry, according to the AWU.
“The government must act immediately to develop a holistic plan for the industry – thousands of jobs and the economic future of entire regional communities depend on it,” it stated.