Mark Cain

Message from the Chief Executive – June 2023

Advocacy work

The domestic steel industry is vital to Australia’s economy. Steel is a key ingredient in infrastructure and construction, manufacturing, mining and agriculture. Not only does it form the backbone of the Australian economy, it plays a vital role in nation-building.  

The Australian Steel Institute (ASI) is the steel industry’s voice, championing its many attributes and assisting in driving the prosperity of the industry. As the peak body for the businesses engaged in steel manufacture, fabrication, distribution and erection, the ASI advocates for better and fairer conditions across the steel sector and for the benefit of all. Over recent months, the ASI has continued to work with all levels of government to address these issue.

Inquiry into developing advanced manufacturing in Australia

In early July, ASI presented its submission to the federal government’s House Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Resources Inquiry into Developing Advanced Manufacturing in Australia. The submission made several key recommendations:

  • Firm local participation targets for supply of renewable energy infrastructure be established by all states and territories, such that it drives capital investment in optimally scaled state-of-the-art manufacturing capability.
  • The Steel Research Hub model of collaborative co-funded academic research and development continue to be supported by the federal government, and ideally expanded to a broader range of steel industry subsectors.
  • Federal government energy policy needs to act to continue to drive a reduction in the cost of energy in order to encourage all forms of manufacturing, which includes advanced manufacturing.
  • Raise the profile of university-based industrial research translation groups such as the Facility for Intelligent Fabrication.
  • Maintain support for collaboration funding schemes that encourage universities and SMEs to partner on commercial implementation of innovative manufacturing technologies.

As a result, I was interviewed on ABC Radio’s AM show on the need for government local content targets to encourage investment in renewables and advanced manufacturing. To listen to the interview, click here.

Anti-dumping commission

ASI attended a meeting with the anti-dumping commissioner, Brad Armstrong, and his executive team. ASI provided a briefing on the steel industry covering: global steel market and benchmark steel price indices, the Australian market position, an overview of domestic producer product capability, and an overview of ASI corporate membership.

ASI also raised members concerns regarding: evidence that is acceptable and usable by the commission, and import data and determination of
country of origin.

Department of industry, science and resources

ASI recently met with staff from the federal government’s Department of Industry, Science and Resources. Agenda items included the outlook for the steel industry; an update on decarbonisation and net zero, including the Safeguard Mechanism and the steel industry, and opportunities and challenges for low emissions steel; energy markets; and feedback from industry on the government’s programs and policies.

Mandatory code of conduct for the east coast gas market

ASI recently reviewed the consultation paper issued by the federal government’s Department of Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water on a Mandatory code of conduct for the east coast gas market and provided written feedback on the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry submission.

State government advocacy

ASI’s advocacy work at the state government level has also been extensive.   

In New South Wales, ASI provided a written submission on a proposed ratchet mechanism design to the Office of Energy and Climate Change.

ASI facilitated a meeting of fabricators with Transport for New South Wales to discuss the changes being proposed to their tendering prequalification requirements. Fabricator attendees included Alfabs, Civmec, Haywards, HF Hand and S&L Steel.

ASI also met with Accenture who are working on a consulting project for  the New South Wales Government on the benefits of local procurement for the renewable energy sector. ASI outlined investment opportunities, jobs, quality and de-risking

In Queensland, ASI liaised with the Brisbane City Council regarding the proposed use of imported fabricated structural steelwork for the Dockside and Moqbray Park Ferry Terminals, calling for both SCA and SSA certification as pre-qualification requirements.

As a result of the VIC Spark North-East Link Steel Forum meeting held in March, the following successful outcomes have resulted: InfraBuild announced that they will be supplying approximately 50,000 tonnes of steel to Spark consortium for the North East Link project; the design specifications of noise walls will be updated during the next revision cycle by the relevant design team to specify BlueScope’s REDCOR® steel rather than imported steel.

2023 Australian Steel Convention

Steel as the preferred building material and why you should Choose Steel as a career will be key themes at this year’s Australian Steel Convention at Sofitel Melbourne from 10 to 12 September. 

There will be valuable insights as to what is happening around the globe, and how these topics affect your business from a global and local perspective.

Keynote speakers include Justin Jones, an adventurer and documentary maker who will delve into ‘adventure thinking’ and lessons learnt from the edge; Dr Alan Dupont who is the chief executive officer at Cognoscenti, and Tony Morriss, senior director of thematic macro research at AustralianSuper.

Project case studies are back by demand, showcasing the innovative solutions across a myriad of project applications and steel product groups. These will include Allianz Stadium, the 308 Exhibition Street Skybridge, and a look at innovative cold formed steel structures.

The convention will present the ASI Choose Steel campaign – an exciting promotional campaign putting steel at the forefront of the public eye as Australia’s preferred building material, and how you can get involved with your steel solutions. 

A young achievers panel will share their career stories, and help shape a new ASI ‘careers-in-steel’ strategy. Delegates will also hear from Brendan O’Connor, Minister for Skills and Training, and Ed Husic, Minister for Industry and Science.

Social events will deliver unique opportunities for networking, learning and celebration. Hosted at the Old Melbourne Gaol, the welcome reception will kick‑off the convention and be an opportunity for delegates to catch up, enjoy the historical site and some fantastic hospitality. The convention dinner promises a memorable evening of entertainment and delicious food at the Plaza Ballroom. 

If you haven’t registered yet, now is the time to do so. For further information, visit the ASI’s website.

Mark Cain
Chief executive, ASI

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