Labor pushes for local steel procurement for government projects

Federal Opposition leader Bill Shorten has urged the government to use local steel in public projects to assist in the survival of Arrium’s Whyalla steelworks.

The ABC reports that a letter from Shorten also insists that an inquiry on the dumping of Asian steel, due to be delivered in April, be sped up.

"Had your Government acted on this issue four months ago when Labor first raised these issues, your Government would now be proposing action rather than further reviews," a letter to prime minister Malcolm Turnbull reads, according to the ABC.

Arrium announced earlier this week that it needed to save $60 million at its Whyalla plant, which employs over 1,000, and studies were underway on the impact of mothballing the site.

The South Australian government – which requires public projects in the state use certified local steel – has urge NSW and Queensland state governments to adopt a “buy Australian first” approach.

"There are multiple problems, the cheap dumping of steel which is really hurting Arrium,” SA treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said yesterday.

"There are procurement policies around the country that are hurting Arrium.”

Meanwhile, Asian steel makers have complained that the Anti-Dumping Commission report into dumping, announced by federal industry minister Chris Pyne yesterday, has made them feel targeted.

"It's a global overcapacity issue and a global downturn in the industries that use those products. Singling out Asia is not helpful," Dan Moulis, a lawyer representing several steelmakers, told The Australian Financial Review.