Media Release

Labor and Liberal vote against protecting local steel industry jobs

16/11/2016 6:30 pm

In a shameful display of crass politics, the Labor Party today voted with the Liberals to defeat a Bill that would have required all State Government construction projects to use Australian-made steel.

“Both the old parties voted against the Greens’ Steel Industry Protection Bill 2016 which was squarely aimed at protecting local steel jobs in Whyalla,” said Mark Parnell MLC, Parliamentary Leader, Greens SA.

“The South Australian steel industry has had a difficult year, with the Arrium steelworks in Whyalla going into administration in April.

“Maintaining a local steel industry is important for the economy and for jobs, particularly in Whyalla.”

“In response to the Arrium crisis, both State and Federal Governments have talked about using local steel for local infrastructure projects; however, relying on good intentions isn’t as good as enshrining this policy in law. That’s why it’s so disappointing that the old parties both voted against the Bill.”

The Greens Bill required steel used in Government projects to be sourced locally, but allows for exclusions if certain types of steel aren’t made here or can’t be made here at a reasonable cost. Even with these exemptions, the Greens’ Bill ensured that about 90% of steel used by the Government will be locally made. The Bill also required regular reporting so that the public can see that the Government is complying with local procurement rules.

Remarkably, a very similar Bill passed the NSW Parliament Upper House earlier this year with support from the Labor Party and the crossbench.

“I’m deeply disappointed that the Labor Party hasn’t agreed to put into law a policy they claim to agree with. If the Government was serious about supporting the local steel industry and steel workers’ jobs, it would have supported this Bill, as their colleagues did in New South Wales,” concluded Mark Parnell.

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