Steel institute seeks govt support
AUSTRALIAN steel fabricators are being muscled out of the nation's major projects by imports from overseas.
That was the message yesterday from John Gardner, the Queensland and Northern Territory manager for the Australian Steel Institute.
Speaking at the Golding Industry Conference, Mr Gardner said he was not calling for tariffs, nor was he blaming resource companies for making commercial decisions to import pre-fabricated modules.
Instead, he was calling on government to think outside the box with a variety of strategies to get Australian steel fabricators more involved in Australia's major projects.
"In Australia, we haven't lost those skills (of making pre-fabricated steel components), but we're finding it very difficult to compete on cost in with competition (in other countries)," Mr Gardner said.
"There are so many major projects under way in Australia, it's a surprise to most people that we're actually not doing well in the steel fabrication area in Australia.
"We are getting about 10-12% of the market for fabricated steel."
Mr Gardner said one positive idea coming from Canberra was the creation of Australian Industry Participation Plans, which examine how much local industry is involved in projects.
Another measure he advocated was making all information about a major project's sourcing of fabricated steel publicly available.
He also said using only Australian standards and specifications would help, and called for consideration of tax breaks for Australian steel fabricators.