BlueScope could benefit from a federal Labor plan to tie government funding to the use of locally-made steel.
Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese visited the Port Kembla steelworks to push his party's plan to rebuild Australian manufacturing to help the economy better weather any more outbreaks like COVID-19.
"We need to make sure that we're resilient as an economy," Mr Albanese said.
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"We've had the shock of the pandemic but all the experts, including the World Health Organisation, say this mightn't be the big one. We can expect further shocks - potentially in our lifetime. So we need to be more self-reliant and one of the things we need to do is manufacture more here.
"That will require steel - the sort of quality products that are made right here in the Illawarra."
Finding the best way to encourage the use of local steel in infrastructure projects has been a thorny issue at a state level.
In the wake of the 2015 steel crisis, Labor pushed for a 90 per cent mandated minimum of local content in all government infrastructure projects, while the Liberals opted for a "whole of life" approach that forced contractors to take into account more than that straightforward cost per tonne.
Mr Albanese said his government would be to set targets for use of Australian products and made that a condition of any funding.
"What the Commonwealth has is money," he said.
"What the Commonwealth provides therefore is the capacity to argue for change and to argue for conditions.
"For instance, as a condition of Australian Commonwealth government funding we should be ensuring Australian products are used and maximized.
"We should ensure that one in 10 of the workforce are apprentices and trainees or cadets.
"We should make sure we don't just hand over money and then forget about it."
Mr Albanese said the state governments would "come to the party" very quickly, once they realised the funding was contingent on the local procurement.
The Labor leader also spoke about reports that Chinese energy companies and steel mills had been directed to stop importing Australian coal, saying the federal government wasn't doing enough to strengthen ties with a big trading partner.
"You have a Trade Minister who hasn't spoken to his counterpart in China, you have senior government ministers, none of whom have any relationship with people in China," he said.
"We're a democracy they're not but that doesn't mean that you can't have an economic relationship with China it's too important for us to ignore."
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