Member for Shellharbour Anna Watson has told State Parliament that the State Government should adopt a target of 90% Australian made steel use in publicly funded state infrastructure during the debate on a 15,000 signatory petition this afternoon.

Ms Watson said that there a range of proposals on the percentage of Australian made steel which could be used in state infrastructure projects from a minimum of at least 50% to 100%.

She said she was persuaded by the Australian Workers Union (AWU) commissioned BIS Shrapnel report which concludes a target of 90% Australian made steel use was achievable and should be adopted by the State Government in its procurement policy.

Ms Watson told State Parliament:

“As a local MP representing the Illawarra, and hundreds of workers and contractors still employed by BlueScope Steel living within my electorate, my position is we must put the case for the maximum possible use of Australian made steel in the state’s infrastructure projects along the lines proposed by the AWU report.

“The only thing missing at this point is the political will to determine what the precise percentage target of Australian made steel use in the state’s infrastructure projects will be.

“In my view, Australian steel making is a strategic industry sector.

“It retains vital importance for manufacturing as a whole.

“The steel industry does not operate under perfect market conditions. 

“It is simply free-market, corporate lick-spitteling purism to pretend it does.

“I commend the petition to the House.”

Ms Watson has also suggested that the State Parliament’s petition process should be reviewed.

“It is a pity that this petition will not be brought on for a vote in the House today.

“The limitation in dealing with petitions in this place requires review in my opinion.

“Petition organisers put in a lot of effort in getting the required signatures for debate in this place, but the petitions in the end are only noted.” 

Ms Watson paid tribute to the organisers of the steel petition, steel workers and combined Illawarra steel unions for “…continued, strong advocacy for the steel industry in the Illawarra.”

12 November 2015