7 November 2019
Senator Rex Patrick has called on Federal and State Governments to work together to make sure Australian steel is used in all new high voltage transmission towers built around the country. This includes the ElectraNet High Voltage Interconnector being planned to connect the South Australian and New South Wales' electricity grids.
"Viewed from a national economic benefit perspective, the use of Whyalla and Port Kembla steel in transmission towers around Australia is an absolute must," said Senator Patrick. "The SA - NSW interconnector should use Aussie steel. Using imported steel would be absolutely against the national interest."
In response to advocacy from Senator Patrick to the Federal Government, Whyalla company, Ferretti International, were recently provided $600K in grant funding to complete a feasibility study into the production of transmission towers at Whyalla for nationwide application.
"That study is nearing an end and it looks like Aussie made transmission towers are a very real possibility."
At Senate Estimates the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) advised that there is no requirement for Transmissions Towers to use Australian steel:
"What I can say is that from the AER, from our side: no, we don't have a requirement in terms of where the steel is sourced from."
"I've now spoken to the SA Government who are keen to use Aussie steel but have expressed concern that the AER will put so much pressure on ElectraNet, the company responsible for building the interconnector, to push the price down," Senator Patrick said.
"That would be a false economy. Government agencies need to look at value, not price. And when I say value, I mean value for our nation."
"We have to stop exporting our rocks to countries that then profit by doing the value add. It denies Australia economic activity and, in some instances, we see the overseas profit being used to exercise soft power in our region. This just isn’t sensible."
"We need all of the players in the same room and on the same page if this is going to work; the AER, the Federal Government, the SA and NSW Government, ElectraNet and Ferretti International."
"I will be writing to relevant Federal and State Ministers and company directors to make sure this happens," said Senator Patrick.
"This is a vital issue for Whyalla, South Australia and our nation as a whole. I am determined to do everything I can to ensure the right decisions are taken in the national interest."