none

LEVELLING THE PLAYING FIELD FOR AUSTRALIAN STEEL

06-12-2017
by 
in 
Laurence MarchiniLEVELLING THE PLAYING FIELD FOR AUSTRALIAN STEEL  Last week’s long awaited report from the Senate Economics References Committee into the Australian steel industry has much to say about the problems facing the industry. But does it have any practical strategies that the current Government is likely to implement?  The report includes no fewer than 28 recommendations, but an alarming number of these are that the Government should reconsider its responses to the report from the Joint Standing

Last week’s long awaited report from the Senate Economics References Committee into the Australian steel industry has much to say about the problems facing the industry. But does it have any practical strategies that the current Government is likely to implement?

The report includes no fewer than 28 recommendations, but an alarming number of these are that the Government should reconsider its responses to the report from the Joint Standing Committee on Government Procurement. So it is hard to imagine that these measures will be adopted by the current Government.

But while further government action on procurement is unlikely, there are areas where effective action could be achieved by either side of the political spectrum. And one of these is on the thorny area of compliance.

Here, the report calls for the Government to improve certification processes for structural and fabricated steel and harmonise standards between jurisdictions and regulatory bodies.

While the report concedes that Australia is obliged to adhere to the World Trade Organisation's Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (which prohibits the enactment of technical regulations that create unnecessary obstacles to international trade), this does entail changes in the assessment of imported steel.

Under the current system, Australian fabricated steel is expected to conform to Australian standards, whereas imported steel often is not required to do so.

This is a clear area where the playing field could be levelled, and the committee has recommended that it would be appropriate to make third-party certification of steel to the relevant standards compulsory for all structural and fabricated steel used in Australia.

While the federal opposition, in the shape of Shadow Industry Minister Kim Carr has been quick to highlight other recommendations, such as the appointment of a national steel supplier advocate and implementing policy that reduces energy costs and secures energy supply for manufacturers, these are unlikely to find traction with the current Government.

The official line from the office of the Industry Minister is that the Government will consider the recommendations of the inquiry and respond in due course.

I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for the response. But when it does come, it would be encouraging if it did involve a levelling of the playing field.

 

Related news & editorials

  1. 14.11.2018
    14.11.2018
    by      In
    Although not strictly cyber-espionage, the story of the Great Seal Bug (aka The Thing), to which I alluded in an earlier editorial, holds many lessons that are still of relevance to today’s security landscape.
    The bug in question was a large wooden carving of the Great Seal of the United States... Read More
  2. 28.09.2018
    28.09.2018
    by      In
    If there was ever an over-used (and mostly misused) term in the current political lexicon it would have to be the “national interest”. We are told that it would not be in the national interest for Chinese companies to control too much of our national energy infrastructure. And a short while ago it... Read More
  3. 13.09.2018
    13.09.2018
    by      In
    I was intrigued to hear of a study released this week from the University of Waterloo in Canada that concluded that companies should avoid scheduling important work tasks immediately following an election.
    Psychologists from the university surveyed a sample of American voters, asking them to rate... Read More
  4. 08.08.2018
    08.08.2018
    by      In
    When Donald Trump withdrew the USA from the Paris Accord on Climate Change, he gave climate change sceptics around the world a barrage of ammunition with which to derail their own national initiatives. And yet the ammunition remains unfired.
    The remainder of the world remains on track to meet (or... Read More