The state’s finance minister has revealed changes to steel procurement are not yet locked in, as his government explores options to help the “complicated industry”.
Victor Dominello met with steel industry stakeholders in Wollongong on Monday and has since directed the government’s procurement board to report on ways to “get greater visibility on Australian steel in infrastructure projects” within 28 days.
Mr Dominello defended the timeframe, saying “you can’t make decisions like this on the back of an envelope”.
“We have workers that put their heart and soul into what they do down there at Port Kembla and they don’t want a minister that’s going to be shooting from the hip,” he told the Mercury.
“I think any criticism of a government only taking 28 days to prepare a report on such an important issue, with a lot of money attached to outcomes, is unfair criticism.
“Twenty-eight days is not a long period of time, given that some governments sit on matters for many, many months and years.
“I’ve given an undertaking [there will be] a report back within 28 days to see what I can do and, hopefully within 28 days if there is something I can do, we’ll implement it.
Mr Dominello has only been in his current ministerial role since the end of January and admitted he had little previous involvement with the steel industry.
The minister described Monday’s state government-led steel procurement forum as an “open, frank discussion”.
“The stakeholders there painted a picture of quite a complicated industry, in the sense that there were a whole lot of levers at play that will determine its ongoing success,” he said.
Asked if the goverment would make changes to its steel procurement, Mr Dominello was non-committal, but said he had asked the board to explore options in consultation with the Australian Steel Institute.
“I want to make sure that we don’t do anything that would harm the industry, so I want to have a look at the report,” he said.