NSW Labor is calling on the Berejiklian Government to support local jobs and guarantee New South Wales steel is prioritised during construction of the $11 billion Western Sydney Airport line and other fast-tracked projects.
The Deputy Labor Leader, Yasmin Catley, said it’s an important opportunity for the State to overhaul procurement practices to help kick-start the NSW economy. It’s estimated that the use of more local steel in NSW Government projects would support up to 3,000 jobs.
“Since 2011, successive NSW Liberal governments have sent local jobs offshore, awarding contracts worth billions of dollars to overseas manufacturers” Ms Catley said.
They have purchased:
- Ferries from China and Indonesia
- Buses from Malaysia
- Trains from South Korea and China
- Metros from India
- Light rail vehicles from France and Spain
- Imported steel for the International Convention Centre and Sydney Metro
In unveiling Labor’s Local Procurement policy, Ms Catley added: “The Berejiklian Government wants to take $3 billion from workers’ wages. The Premier had better be damn sure this project benefits NSW by sourcing materials made in this State.
The Shadow Minister for the Illawarra, Ryan Park, said using steel made in NSW to build projects like roads, hospitals and schools would boost jobs in manufacturing hubs like the Illawarra.
“Rather than using foreign steel, it makes sense to buy steel made in NSW. For every local steel industry worker employed, an additional 6 workers in related industries are supported,” Mr Park said.
The Shadow Minister for Natural Resources, Paul Scully, whose Wollongong electorate contains the Port Kembla steelworks, said using more locally produced steel would provide an immediate benefit to the Illawarra and to broader NSW economy.
“In Australia we mine our resources, send them offshore to be processed and buy them back for a higher price when we already make steel right here in the Illawarra. Let’s cut out the middleman, create more Australian jobs and use Australian steel to build NSW,” Mr Scully said.
“For every $1 million of steel bought from NSW around $1.87 million is added to our economy and it supports up to 16 full-time equivalent employees. It’s also estimated that 3000 jobs would be supported if more local steel was used in major NSW Government projects.”
The Labor Member for Shellharbour, Anna Watson, added: “If the Berejiklian Government is genuine about creating jobs and supporting economic recovery in NSW it should start by requiring local steel to be used in public infrastructure projects.
“Most people would be shocked to know that major NSW Government projects, along with most of the wind turbines and solar panels that are currently generating energy in NSW, are mostly made of imported steel.
“We have a local steel industry that not only produces high quality steel products but it also does it in a way that reduces its environmental footprint by using recycled water, recycled steel and renewable energy in its production process.”
The Berejiklian Government can support the local steel industry with some simple changes to its procurement practices and its contractor requirements by:
- Establishing local content targets for steel.
- Changing its assessment criteria to take into account total economic benefit.
- Adding considerations relating to social, environmental and safety considerations, backed up by appropriate compliance check.