The Illawarra Business Chamber will call for action to create a level playing field for the domestic steel industry at the Senate Inquiry hearing later today, rather than mandating targets for local content sourcing.
“Steel is the backbone of the Illawarra economy and we want a strong, vibrant and innovative steel industry for the years to come,” IBC Chief Executive Officer Debra Murphy said.
“We’ve heard that the unions will ask the Federal Government to institute mandatory 100% local content targets for steel used in public projects.
“As I will inform the Inquiry, this action would be anti-competitive and may not achieve the best outcome for the purchaser – the Australian public.
“We don’t want a return to the bad old days of protectionism and trade tariffs.
“We want businesses, including our steel producers, to be the very best they can be.
“High performing businesses survive and thrive in the free market, which provides the best environment for innovation, opportunity and jobs.
“That’s why we are advocating for measures that will create a level playing field for our domestic industry, so they compete on the same terms as foreign suppliers,” Ms Murphy said.
Ms Murphy and IBC Policy Manager, Rebecca Burdick, will ask the Inquiry to recommend adoption of three strategies to assist Australia’s steel producers to compete on equal terms:
- Require government suppliers to meet Australian Standards
- Enhance local content procurement through better engagement, reporting, and communicating the employment outcomes of public infrastructure projects
- Encourage the States and Territories to apply Industry Participation Agreements for Federal-State infrastructure initiatives.
“We believe that these steps will open up opportunity for our local steel producers, like BlueScope, and stem any further decline of this vital industry,” Ms Murphy said.
Ms Murphy will also ask the Inquiry to urge the Federal Government to adopt the IBC’s proposals to diversify the Illawarra economy.
“In September last year we gave the Federal Government a plan to build entrepreneurship, boost small business research and invest in the infrastructure our region needs.
“Adoption of this plan and the other steps we have recommended will ensure the Illawarra realises its potential as a vibrant, innovative regional economy in the years to come,” Ms Murphy concluded.