Force mining companies to buy Australian: Greens MP

 Greens MP Adam Bant has backed calls for local content rules for big mining projects.

Mr Bandt used Bluescope’s recent decision to cut 1000 jobs as an example of the failure of the Federal Government’s ‘buy Australian’ policies.

"We know that the big miners are sending much of their profits overseas, but now we know that a lot of the goods and services needed to develop these mines are coming from offshore as well." said Mr Bandt in a statement.

He pointed to a report released last month stating as little of 10% of the steel for major resource projects are sourced in Australia, further claiming that restrictive Chinese resource contracts are to blame.

"There are also reports that resource contracts with China may include requirements for procurement agreements with Chinese manufacturers."

He pointed to countries such as Brazil which have local content requirements on resource projects .
Similar campaigns in WA have been met with lukewarm response from politicians.

WA premier Bartlett previously said that it wasn’t a Governments role to get involved in private sector business deals.

“The government has got a very clear interest in making sure work does stay in Western Australia and there are skills and job opportunities available for the Western Australian public, but it is very dangerous territory when governments get involved in direct private sector financial arrangements.

Fairfax economics editor Ross Gittens has also criticised the proposal saying that a declining manufacturing sector is just part of a balancing out of the global economy.

“The flipside of our increasing specialisation in the export of raw materials is our Asian trading partners’ increasing specialisation in what they’re best at: using their abundant but mainly unskilled and thus cheap labour to produce manufactures, including steel.” he said in a post on the National Times

“Increasing their exports of manufactures is the way they pay for our raw material exports to them, including the chief ingredients of steel.”

What do you think? Should mining companies be forced to buy Australian steel? Or is it a global market and we simply have to compete and become more productive?

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