Media Release

Greens Bill to protect Whyalla Steel Industry

21/06/2016 9:00 am

In State Parliament today the Greens will introduce a “Steel Industry Protection Bill”.  This Bill will enshrine in law what everyone says they want – for government and council infrastructure projects to use Australian steel.

“Despite all the attention now being given to the future of the Whyalla steelworks, there is still a glaring lack of commitment to local procurement of steel, especially for public infrastructure projects”, said Mark Parnell MLC, Parliamentary Leader of the SA Greens.

“For the people of Whyalla to have confidence that public infrastructure projects will use local steel, they need more than just assurances, they need legislation and accountability.

“The surest, simplest and most responsible action for every government in the country to take to protect Australian steel and the thousands of manufacturing jobs that depend on it, is to make sure that wherever practical our tax dollars are spent on Australian steel made by Australian workers.  This includes billions spend on railways, roads, bridges, hospitals, schools, towers and houses.

“Opponents of local procurement policies often refer to Free Trade Agreements as the reason not to insist on using local products for public infrastructure projects.  What they forget is that our major trading partners including China and the US, also protect their local industries with local procurement policies.  Australia must insist on being able to support local industries within a Fair Trade environment as well.

“Of course, there will be occasional cases where a local steel product isn’t available or isn’t suitable, however the Greens’ Bill ensures around 90% of steel used will be made in Australian furnaces in Whyalla and the Illawarra by Australian workers.

Note: The NSW Parliament will vote this week on an identical measure introduced by the NSW Greens.  That Bill will certainly pass the NSW Upper House with Labor and the entire cross-bench agreeing to support it.  Only the Coalition is opposed.  With a Labor Government in place in SA, if the SA Labor Party supports the SA Greens Bill, it is certain to pass both Houses of State Parliament.  This will be a great confidence booster to the operators of the Whyalla Steel works and the Whyalla community.

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