891 Adelaide

14 Apr 2016 Transcipt

891 ABC Adelaide Drive with Ian Henschke

Anti-Dumping Commission; duties on steel imports

Ian Henschke: Chris Pyne joins us now, well Chris Pyne, why, why, why, why, why?

Christopher Pyne: Well Ian, firstly Labor's policy they've announced today is a collection of motherhood statements. They think that the answer to the steel situation is a public servant called the Steel Advocate. The Steel Advocate for Australia should be the Minister for Industry, which is exactly what I'm doing. I am the number one advocate for Australian steel. Labor's policy is more boards, more public servants, more talk. They've virtually said nothing about anti-dumping at all when I'm actually implementing the anti-dumping reforms that are leading to new duties being applied to Chinese, Malaysian, Taiwanese, and South Korean steel. In their policy they've said we need to toughen up the ADC; I've actually got measures that have toughened up the ADC – the Anti-Dumping Commission – allowing me to cause an inquiry into Asian steel. Labor have completely back flipped from their position last Friday that Bill Shorten said that Australian steel would be mandated in Australian Government contracts, and they totally reversed their position today. In fact their position today is so vacuous that it's almost embarrassing. Their policy is to bring back the carbon tax. The last thing Arrium needs right now is a carbon tax to be imposed on their electricity costs. We need to keep the prices and costs downs for our struggling industries, not hit them for six by re-electing a Labor Government who wants to bring back the carbon tax.

Ian Henschke: Okay now you’re- let's put the carbon tax aside and just go with some of the issues that Kim Carr raised, and I'll raise this one off our text line. Chris has said: well said, grow some balls Turnbull. Fair trade, not free trade. Now...

Christopher Pyne: [Talks over] Yeah exactly, that's what we're doing: fair trade.

Ian Henschke: No, but what the question there obviously is reacting to the Kim Carr statement that Mr Turnbull is in China and he hasn't raised the issue of the dumping, or is he doing it behind closed doors? The dumping of cheap Chinese steel on the Australian market.

Christopher Pyne: Well we're taking action, and you'll see more action in the next week or two. But it's fine for Labor in Opposition who are reckless and irresponsible to hand around advice, diplomatic advice, to Mr Turnbull from the protection of their armchairs in Melbourne or in Sydney. Malcolm Turnbull is in China representing Australia.

Ian Henschke: [Talks over] Okay, well the United States – and I’m reading this from the Wall Street Journal from last month – the US imposes 266 per cent duty on some Chinese steel imports. So the US has come out and recognised it’s a problem. The Department of Commerce has done this. The duties, set at 265 per cent for Chinese steelmakers, will be imposed within a week. So the US has done that because they’ve recognised it. What have we done, what have you done to address it in the way the Americans have?

Christopher Pyne: Well, the Americans have their own processes, and we have our own processes.

Ian Henschke: [Interrupts] Sounds like a pretty good process, though, doesn’t it?

Christopher Pyne: Well Ian, are you going to let me answer the question?

Ian Henschke: All right. Yep.

Christopher Pyne: So we have our process and they have their processes, and I have to act on the advice from the Anti-Dumping Commissioner. Now the last time he gave me advice, which was in February to impose duties on Taiwanese, Malaysian, and Chinese steel, I did so. He will give me advice again in the next week or two, because he’s finalising investigations into other actions that have been taken. But the only time that you can impose duties on overseas competitors is when their actions are injuring Australian businesses, and that’s why every time I’ve been asked to impose a duty I have. And I’ve moved our position from the green light of fair trade to the amber light of fair- of fair- of free- sorry, the green light of free trade to the amber light of fair trade for the very reason that my view is that Australia doesn’t have to be the international white knight on duties. We should do whatever we can – within the rules of the World Trade Organisation – to protect our industries, and that’s what I’m doing, and that’s why I brought forward the 72,000 tonnes of steel for the Adelaide to Tarkulha railway, because it’s an $80 million contract for Arrium. They’re real decisions, not just talking.

Ian Henschke: Okay. One final question. The US set their duty, which you’ve just said you did, at 265.79 per cent for Chinese steelmakers. Did you match that?

Christopher Pyne: Well Ian, I didn’t because I don’t know what the circumstances are of what the United States duties have been. So just because the United States has a particular duty on anything, any product, doesn’t mean Australia instantaneously matches that, and I don’t know about the veracity of your story. Now it might be in the newspaper, but I’m not sure that that would necessarily be the case. I don’t know what the baseline they’re coming off, so of course I can’t tell you why the United States set their duties. I’m not the minister responsible for the American [indistinct]

Ian Henschke: [Talks over] Okay. What duty- what duty did we set ours at? You said that you set a duty. What duty was that?

Christopher Pyne: Well, our duties were set on the circumvention around the steel duties that were already in place. So we already have duties have in place that vary from country to country; I added to those duties. I’ll get you those figures. I don’t have them off the top of my head, because they are different for every country, and they’re different for every product, and there are literally hundreds of kinds of products.

Ian Henschke: All right. Thank you very much for your time this afternoon. Christopher Pyne, our Federal Industries Minister.