For several years the phrase “Australian steel” has been on the lips of state government ministers and MPs.
Responding to the push for mandated use of locally-made steel in infrastructure projects, the government began talking about the “Australian steel” it was already using.
The problem was there was no definition of what “Australian steel” meant.
Did it mean the steel was made here? Or did local suppliers buying imported steel and value-adding it also count as “Australian steel”?
A case in point was former Roads Minister Duncan Gay stating in parliament that the Foxground and Berry Bypass “uses a majority of Australian steel”.
When Roads and Maritime Services was asked about the origin of the steel, it said the steel was bought from Australian companies and, where they got the steel was a question for them.
Now, as part of the NSW government’s procurement reforms due to take effect from October this year, stronger definitions around steel use will be created.
As well as mandating an Australian Steel Standard, the amount of Australian steel used in projects will be regularly published online.
For this to be effective, definitions will be created so the government knows what it is measuring.
It is understood there will be three categories – Australian suppliers, Australian fabricators and Australian producers.
The third category is the only one that would be made up exclusively of steel manufactured in Australia.
The government is believed to be considering reporting the amount in all three categories.
Wollongong MP Paul Scully said a definition of what constituted Australian steel was crucial.
“Without a definition, the whole thing’s a joke,” Mr Scully said.
“That’s why the definition is so important, how they arrive at the definition is important, how they measure performance against that definition is important.”