Poor government policy forces steelmakers into administration

Published: 7 Apr 2016

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union today calls on the Federal Government to shore up the future of the Australian steel manufacturing industry after the owner of the country’s only genuine structural steel producer sank into voluntary administration.

CFMEU Construction and General South Australian State Secretary Aaron Cartledge said thousands of local jobs at Arrium’s Whyalla steelworks were on the line due to bad Government policies that supported sub-standard imports over local steel.

“Australia’s steel manufacturing industry has taken a massive hit today and the Federal Government and Arrium have a lot to answer for,” Mr Cartledge said.

“Industry Minister Christopher Pyne must level the playing field by stopping unfair imported steel shipments or Whyalla will be reduced to little more than a coffee stop on the way from Adelaide to Port Lincoln.

“In spite of promises made before the 2013 federal election, the Abbott and Turnbull Governments have not taken seriously its commitments to ensure Australia has a strong anti-dumping and countervailing system and that imported steel is up to Australian quality standards.

“These commitments were all but forgotten in a blind zest to secure export opportunities in free trade agreements, a result that has already seen the current account deficit blow out in recent months and companies like Arrium walking into administration.”

Mr Cartledge said the loss of the steel maker would have wider implications for the region’s resource industry, given Whyalla is an engineering hub and the loss of OneSteel and Arrium would mean the closure of associated workshops and small businesses.

“It’s not only our members and their families that will feel the effect of this decision, the whole region relies on Whyalla and the jobs it supports,” Mr Cartledge said.

“The Government must play a role in creating certainty for workers by signalling to the steel industry that it will act on sub-standard and unfairly priced imports that affect our industry.

“Minister Pyne could do something right now by committing to procure Australian made Steel for all Government supported projects, by levying emergency safeguard tariffs on imported steel and by starting to get serious about creating a level playing field which supports regional industries and the families and communities which rely on it.”