BlueScope and other Australian steel makers can’t compete fairly with dumped Asian steel, a federal government report has found.
And steel campaigner Arthur Rorris said it would now be “reckless” for the state government to oppose the Greens steel bill soon to return to the NSW parliament.
An Anti-Dumping Commission report released late on Friday said the government-subsidised steel from Asian markets had created unsustainably low export prices.
Australian steelmakers like BlueScope and Arrium were not able to compete with those prices.
“The Australian industry cannot compete on a level playing field with dumped and subsidised Asian exports,” the report stated.
It found that the over-production of steel globally had continued, despite a lack of demand.
“The ongoing significant global over-supply has depressed steel and aluminium prices, resulting in prolonged difficult trading conditions for steel and aluminium producers generally, including in Australia,” the report stated.
While not suggesting the adoption of any specific measures to deal with the issue, the report found the anti-dumping system was reasonably effective.
It did point out it was not government policy to “insulate Australian industries from cyclical downturns or from vigorous competition”.
South Coast Labour Council Secretary Mr Rorris described as “perfect timing” the release of the report ahead of the steel procurement bill heading to the Liberal-dominated lower house.
“It would now be an incredibly reckless and irresponsible thing for the state government to do to pretend that there is such a thing as a free market or free trade regime in steel when clearly there is not,” Mr Rorris said.
He said the federal government’s own report had confirmed what he and other steel campaigners had been saying for the last year.
“That is that there is no level playing field in the steel market, that it has been systematically corrupted through intentional oversupply which in our view leads to predatory behaviour and has nothing to do with demand and supply factors,” Mr Rorris said.
“Anyone who preaches free trade in the steel market is now engaging in a mug’s game. No one in their right mind around the world is talking this way except for the federal government and the NSW state government.”