Illawarra State Labor MPs have cautiously welcomed the State Government’s steel procurement changes announced today but maintain that their Securing NSW Steel Industry Bill 2017 was still the best option for sustainable steel industry jobs in the Illawarra.
They said the Government’s position has shifted in a positive direction over the last two years but ideological stubbornness is preventing the most important changes: mandating the use of Australian-made steel and enforcing compliance.
Labor’s Securing NSW Steel Industry Bill 2017 introduced into the Legislative Assembly last week will:
Mandate the use of 90 per cent Australian-made steel use in publicly funded infrastructure projects across NSW;
Establish a NSW Steel Industry Advocate to certify the use of Australian-made steel and monitor compliance, and;
Locate the NSW Steel Industry Advocate in the Illawarra.
The procurement changes announced by the Government today appear to mandate new standards for steel use in tenders for infrastructure; provide $50,000 to the Australian Steel Institute, and publish the amount of steel used in its infrastructure projects.
Illawarra State Labor MPs believe that unless there is a ‘independent full time cop on the beat’ to police the use of Australian-made steel and new steel standards as their Bill is proposing, then the Government’s proposed procurement reforms would be meaningless.
Illawarra Labor MPs are now considering whether to incorporate the Government’s procurement initiatives into their Bill in an attempt to convince the Government to vote for a real, concrete solution to secure the sustainability of the steel industry in the region.
Illawarra Labor MPs said many of the Government’s changes were also part of the Sustainable and Secure Steel Jobs Plan launched by NSW Labor last year, which included a ‘whole of life’ assessment for products in tenders.
Comments attributable to Ryan Park MP:
“We are finally seeing some encouraging signs from the NSW Government but there is still a gap remaining that can be closed if there is just a little more movement to mandating the use of Australian-made steel.
“It’s only taken over two years for the Government to realise that just throwing taxpayers money around with a tax concession was simply not going to cut it in the Illawarra when it comes to a real solution to securing the steel industry.
“In a spirit of good will, Labor will now consider incorporating the Government’s initiatives in our legislation in an attempt to convince it to vote for Labor’s Securing NSW Steel Industry