South Australia premier Tom Koutsantonis © Press Association Images
South Australia premier Tom Koutsantonis © Press Association Images

South Australia calls on states to 'support our steel'

Adam Leach is a freelance business journalist
17 March 2016

South Australia premier Tom Koutsantonis has called on his fellow state premiers to follow his lead in pledging to use only Australian made steel in publicly funded projects, but found nobody to back him up.

Speaking at the launch of the Support Our Steel campaign, Koutsantonis (pictured), who is also the Australian minister for mineral resources and energy, gave an impassioned plea for every level of government to get behind the domestic industry and shun foreign exports where public money was being spent.

“Our steelmakers and fabricators are facing major challenges and low-cost imports from countries with inferior quality standards than Australia. This is having a detrimental impact on our steel industry,” said Koutsantonis.

“South Australia wants every state and also the Federal Government to get behind us to ensure quality and safety standards are implemented.”

While the campaign and plea have both received warm support from both the public and a number of media outlets, it has yet to receive the support and official backing from any other state. Christopher Pyne, industry minister, echoed the calls and said it would be advantageous for New South Wales to use procurement policy to support the Whyalla Steelworks which is currently at threat of being mothballed.

However, within the administrations of the two largest states of New South Wales and Victoria, there appears to be little appetite to commit to 100% Australian steel.

Gladys Berejiklian, treasurer for New South Wales, explained under current arrangements, all bidders for projects over $10 million in value are required to demonstrate how they will support local industry, while the Victorian government stated it requires 100% Australian steel for level crossing removals and sets out minimum requirements on strategic projects.

Neither Western Australia, Tasmania, Queensland, or the Northern Territories have backed the call either. But Koutsantonis has vowed to continue to campaign to get the backing and support of everything up to the federal government to support Australian steel. 

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