A federal government report on the harm dumped steel is doing to Australian industries is cause for action, two Illawarra MPs have said.
Late on Friday afternoon the government released the Anti-Dumping Commission report that found Australian steelmakers like BlueScope could not compete fairly with the glut of dumped steel coming from markets like China.
“The Australian industry cannot compete on a level playing field with dumped and subsidised Asian exports,” the commission’s report stated.
This was because the Chinese government was subsidising its steelmaking, which meant more steel was being made, despite the demand not being there.
This had created a glut of steel on the market, which had the effect of reducing prices to a level Australian steelmakers simply could not match.
In releasing the report on Friday afternoon Assistant Industry Minister Craig Laundry said the country’s steelmakers needed be able to compete fairly with international rivals.
“Australian manufacturing, and steel in particular, can be profitable if it is competitive, but it is essential that it’s operating on a level playing field,” Mr Laundry said.
While agreeing to work with the industry to improve anti-dumping efforts, Mr Laundry said it would not be looking to introduce measures that restricted international trade.
“The Coalition government is committed to pursuing an agenda of trade liberalisation to increase investment, productivity and foster competition and innovation,” he said.
Illawarra federal MPs Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones said the report highlighted the need for the Turnbull Coalition government to take action.
“When it comes to anti-dumping measures to secure Australia’s steel industry the government has stuck its head in the sand and wanted the entire issue to go away,” Throsby MP Jones said.
“They only put this report out because of sustained pressure from Labor and the Australian steel industry. Even then they waited until very late on a Friday afternoon so that their inaction would be hidden from scrutiny.”
Cunningham MP Ms Bird said the government needed to protect the interests of BlueScope workers at Port Kembla and ensure that foreign steelmakers don’t get an unfair advantage.
“The Liberals haven’t done anything, they need to act,” Ms Bird said.
“Workers at the Port Kembla steelworks, just like workers in trade-exposed industries across Australia, deserve a government that is fighting for them.
“Nothing should be off the table, the Coalition needs to take some responsibility and act to ensure Australian steel survives.”