Steelmaking has the potential for a solid future in Australia, but only if the right business models, legislation and technologies are introduced.
The Australian steelmaking industry has come a long way since activities began to ramp up in 1915. The modern Australian steel industry is currently made up of a significant number of companies involved in every step of the steel making process, from steel manufacturing to processing and Australian steel distribution.
Australia does not currently enter the top 20 steel producing countries in the world, with Australian crude steel production declining in recent years despite its abundant steel supplies, making it particularly sensitive to global trends. The 2016 inquiry hoped to look into how this can be changed by supporting the Australian steel industry.
Despite the lapse of the 44th Parliament in 2016, the Senate has agreed to carry the inquiry into the future of Australia’s steel industry, with the committee due to report by 1 December 2017.
While the lapse in Parliament pushed the inquiry, the committee has released an interim report which has primarily focused on the issues facing Arrium, drawing on the submissions and evidence submitted by those in the Whyalla region.
The interim report, on the Australian Parliament website, focused on the following areas:
- The Australian Governments support to secure the sale of Arrium, with the recommendation that funding be deployed as a matter of urgency to assist with the sales process
- Further support may be required in the sale of Arrium, depending on the final offers. The committee recommends the Australian Government works with both bidders and administrators for any additional support (as appropriate) to ensure the sale of the company and the future of Whyalla steelworkers is secured
- The committee recommends additional policy and legislation around anti-dumping and countervailing measures
Other points submitters have addressed is the steel oversupply problem in China, with calls for more support for Australian steel producers and the industry as a whole.
Protecting the future of NSW steel industry
On 25 August 2016, a historic bill passed called the Greens Steel Industry Protection Bill was passed through the NSW Upper House, with every political party voting in support of it.
The bill guarantees that Australian-made steel is used in all NSW state-funded infrastructure projects. The purpose of the Greens Steel Industry Protection bill has been designed to secure a future for steelmaking in the Illawarra region.
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