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Greens call on Labor to back local steel procurement

Labor's steel plan announced by opposition leader Bill Shorten now falls short of what is needed to ensure the future of the steel manufacturing in Port Kembla (and also Whyalla in South Australia), the Greens said today.

"Mandated procurement on all government projects backed by stringent anti-dumping and quality control rules would provide a viable survival plan for the steel industry," Senator Rhiannon said.

"The people of the Illawarra should be informed on why Mr Shorten has reversed his support for such a policy as he announced last week.

"Under current free trade agreements with China and the USA, both these countries have reserved the right to exercise local procurement strategies over imports, yet Labor seems unprepared to match these governments' ambitions for their national producers.

"With thousands of jobs in the balance all parties should be backing a Steel Industry Plan with mandated public procurement as its centre piece." Senator Rhiannon added.

"It's definitely a step forward to have Labor realise the steel industry needs government intervention to survive, however it's disappointing to see them fall short of committing to real action," David Shoebridge Greens MP said.

"The industry needs procurement and guaranteed support and that's exactly why we have the Steel Industry Protection Bill 2016 in the NSW Parliament, calling for Australian steel to be used in all public construction.

"The Greens stand with local steel workers in calling for the Commonwealth and all states and territories to make it mandatory to use Australian steel in all publicly funded infrastructure projects and we encourage Labor to join with us," Mr Shoebridge said.

Greens candidate for Cunningham Cath Blakey said, "This is a critical time for the future of the Illawarra and we must develop certainty for the steel industry so workers have job security.

"Port Kembla steelworks workers are still vulnerable due to the downturn in global steel prices and the dumping of below cost steel into the Australian market and we need an approach that matches Australia's key trading partners." Ms Blakey said.

The Illawarra Greens made a comprehensive submission to the current Senate Inquiry prior to the committee's public hearing in the Illawarra on 1 April this year.

The proposal called for: a mandated 100% structural steel procurement for all projects across all three tiers of government; more effective anti-dumping measures; a stringent quality assurance regime for steel used in all building and construction works-public and private- in Australia  outlined in the Australian Steel Institute's submission to the Inquiry; and investment, including public sector co-investment, for a transition to technologies in manufacturing; and the use of renewable power supplies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"The Illawarra Greens position is both reasonable and achievable." Ms Blakey added.

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