May 6, 2024

Industry Insider Column

Guest Author – David Roberts, Trading Director at Sanwa 

Ambition Must Be Matched By Structure

In August last year the federal government announced an ambitious plan to build 1.2 million new homes over the next five years. Fine. It was welcome news for the economy generally and for the home building sector in particular. However, if you want to build that many homes, you must have every support mechanism in place to ensure the materials exist with which to build them. You need to do this without jeopardising quality and safety, and the materials used must meet audited Australian standards. Ideally, they will also come from sources where the green credentials of the manufacturer are of the highest level. Steel will play an important role in this bold construction project. However, whilst the


Australian government should be applauded for its ambition, it can be criticised in some areas of its execution. The government has shown a distinct lack of concern for the ordinary man in the steel industry – especially when compared to what our mates across the ditch have shown us can be done. Not so long ago the New Zealand government declared anti-dumping actions on construction materials would be put on hold for a period of time to assist in keeping down the costs of those building materials. No such luck here in Australia where the risk of anti-dumping actions brought by perennial users (some would say, abusers) of the system ensure competitive sources of supply are kept out of the market while the local boys reap the benefit of higher prices.

Remarkably, however, those locals who benefitted for many years from these higher prices now apparently need further assistance. The production of more than one million tonnes of steel at Whyalla apparently now requires substantial government investment not only to make it greener, but perhaps also to help in the mere production of it. The coming month will be very important in observing what happens to this source.

Meanwhile, greener sources of supply of construction steels with carbon footprints at a fraction of that being produced in Australia see no extra assistance being offered to them by the Green Building Council or any other government group. Rather, the hoops and obstacles being put in front of these greener steel production alternatives give the impression that reducing the amount of carbon used in making a tonne of steel is of zero consequence to the people making decisions on which steel and how much carbon is used in building construction. The fact is, no financial incentives are offered to low carbon footprint producers. And conversely and perhaps more importantly, no disincentives are put in the way of high carbon footprint producers. In this latter case, it is InfraBuild, Liberty and BlueScope Steel who currently sit on the upper levels of the pile.

Got Something To Say?  If you would like to be the guest author of an Industry Insider column you are very welcome. The choice of topic is yours. You might like to have a rant against some overbearing bureaucracy, or maybe you think further regulation is needed in a particular sector? Perhaps you want to complain about some unfairness which exists in the industry. There is no cost involved in being the guest author. Simply contact the publisher, Mark Maccallum, via his email: [email protected]

Disclaimer. The Industry Insider column is an opinion piece where the views expressed belong solely and entirely to the indicated author, in this case: David Roberts, Trading Director at Sanwa. Australian Steel News accepts no responsibility whatsoever for the veracity of the author´s opinions nor for the accuracy of any information given by him.

If you would like to contact David Roberts, you can do so via his email: [email protected]