Editorial December 1 2016

Finally.

It took some mighty fine wheeling and dealing from independent Senator Nick Xenophon, but it has happened.

Over 12 months ago, this masthead launched our Save Our Steelworks campaign calling for a “fairer deal for Australian steel”.

The fight took a “mighty leap forward” this week.

On Tuesday night, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann revealed the changes to the Federal Government’s procurement policy.

Minister Cormann uttered the words the Illawarra had been waiting to hear.

“I have had extensive discussions with Senator Xenophon, for a period in senate estimates but more recently one-on-one in my office, in relation to the government's commonwealth procurement guidelines,” Sen Cormann told the senate.

“I am pleased to inform the Senate that the government has agreed on some improvements to the Commonwealth Procurement Rules.”

Those changes will mean for major projects, Australian steel will be favoured by contractors.

The “mighty leap forward” statement was made by local steel campaigner Arty Rorris.

While Mr Rorris has been pushing for a 90 per cent mandate on steel, he accepts this is progress on a critical issue to the country and this region.

The Turnbull Government's position is likely to force the hand of the Baird NSW Government to follow suit.

It didn’t take long for Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra Gareth Ward to publicly ask his NSW Finance Minister Dominic Perrotte to do the same.

In response the Minister’s office said it would take time to consider and review the change by the Turnbull Government.

The Minister’s office also offered some more positive signs.

“We are supporting steelworkers through our work with the Australian Steel Institute and Standards Australia to create – for the first time – an Australian Standard for the Fabrication and Erection of Steelwork,” the Minister’s spokesman said.

The Minister’s office indicated that would be completed soon.

As they say in the classics, the ox is slow but the earth is patient.

It may have taken some time, but we are finally seeing some positive movement in getting a fairer deal for Australian steel.

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