Manufacturing News

Shorten announces opposition steel policy

Opposition leader Bill Shorten has announced the opposition’s policy on metals manufacturing, with a six-point plan he has said would be enacted within 100 days of being elected.

Shorten is visiting BlueScope Steel at Port Kembla. The plan, according to the Labor Herald, would:

  • “ensure Australian standards are upheld in federal government-funded projects and support local producers meet certification standards;
  • seek to maximise the use of locally-produced steel in federal government funded projects and put in place regular reporting of usage levels;
  • halve the thresholds for projects required to have an Australian industry participation (AIP) plans;
  • double the funding for the Australian industry participation authority and appoint an AIP board;
  • ensure Australia’s anti-dumping system has the right powers and penalties in place; and
  • create a national steel supplier advocate.”


Last week the approach to the local steel industry appeared to open up as an area of policy difference between the federal government and opposition, as well as within the coalition itself, following the Arrium collapse.

The day after the steel and iron ore company entered voluntary administration, Shorten, a former Australian Workers Union boss, said changes to steel procurement were needed

“What is wrong with requiring Australian content in the steel?” he said of infrastructure projects.

Cabinet gave conflicting signals last week on steel, with industry minister Christopher Pyne appearing to endorse local procurement for government projects, though trade minister Steve Ciobo and treasurer Scott Morrison backing away from intervening in the market.

“You don’t get involved in a kneejerk reaction, the sort of thing that says: ‘let’s tear up our trade agreements; let’s tear up the jobs in the new economy to go and play politics with an issue in South Australia’,” Morrison said last week.

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