Steel procurement to comply with new Australian standard

Steel procured by the New South Wales government will need to undergo compliance with new Australian standards to improve safety and transparency.

Image: Luis Cláudio

New reforms are in store for the New South Wales government’s procurement policy related to buying steel for infrastructure projects.

The new sweeping reforms announced by NSW Minister for Finance, Services and Property Victor Dominello and Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra and South Coast Gareth Ward fall within a new Australian Steel Standard (AS/NZS 5131), which the government plans to improve safety standards, industry certification and transparency.

Under the new standards that will be mandated by the state government in all procurement processes where steel is purchased to be integrated into new infrastructure projects, the government wants to ensure that all departments and vendors are compliant.

According to the Department of Finance, the standard, developed by Standards Australia, supported by the Australian Steel Institute and published in December 2016, aims to address concerns about the quality of structural steel being used in construction work and to enable fair competition between Australian and international suppliers.

Mr Dominello said the NSW government has moved quickly to address the very real concerns within the industry around safety and quality following the Steel Industry Summit on 20th March 2017.

“That is why the Government has committed to supporting a level playing field through the adoption of this new standard,” Mr Dominello said.

“We are also working to ensure that industry is ready and able to comply with the new standard by contributing $50,000 to the Australian Steel Institute on successful independent accreditation of their steel standard compliance scheme.”

According to the Department of Finance, new government infrastructure tenders published after 1st October 2017 will require compliance with the new standard.

Mr Ward said this was an “enormous victory” for the Illawarra Region.

“This announcement delivers government procurement standards and ensures that quality as well as price are factors when governments procure steel,” Mr Ward said.

“This announcement is the most significant procurement policy change in our region’s history. I promised I would take up this fight and today my words have been matched with actions that will benefit our region for years to come.”

“I took up this fight because I want to see more Australian steel used in Government infrastructure projects. This policy announcement is what the industry has called for and will help support jobs in our region.”

Mr Ward said: “With the NSW government spending around $70 billion over the next four years on infrastructure alone, I want to ensure our steel makers, manufactures and associated businesses can take advantage of the NSW Liberals and Nationals Government building boom. These changes will help do exactly that.”

The NSW government has also announced further reform affecting Steel Procurement including:

  • Reviewing the application of a “broader economic benefit” test of using Australian versus imported suppliers to ensure fairness between local and international suppliers when considering value for money assessment;
  • Publishing the amount of Australian steel used across key NSW government projects digitally to ensure transparency in government contracting. A dashboard is expected to be made public later this year and will be managed centrally by NSW Procurement; and
  • Reviewing the need to ensure protection for fabricators that raise concerns about steel quality directly with Government agencies.

 

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