In November 1938, wharfies at Port Kembla bravely refused to load the ship *Dalfram* with pig iron destined for Japan in protest about the invasion of Manchuria. The pig iron had come from the Port Kembla steelworks, near Wollongong, which is an indelible part of Australian history.
It should also be part of our future although that is at risk. The coal mine that supplies the Port Kembla steelworks has not been able to get approval to extend and is now slated to close in 2028. The owner of the steelworks, Bluescope, says that it would cost up to $100 million to import coal from elsewhere threatening its long term viability.
The Port Kembla steelworks is just one of two steel mills Australia has left. We are the world's largest exporters of coking coal and iron ore - the two main ingredients that go into making steel - yet we are now a net importer of steel.
At a time of global instability, we cannot afford to lose another steel mill. One way we can help is to make sure that we use Australian steel in government funded infrastructure projects.
Here in Central Queensland the largest infrastructure project in regional Queensland is about to start. The $1 billion Rockhampton Ring Road project will provide massive benefits for our region. It will get trucks and congestion out of our city, making it easier to get around town and to the beach.
When the LNP was the Federal Government we put up 80 per cent of the funds for this major project and tenders are now out to attract a consortium to start building over the next year.
I have heard that some tenderers are considering using Chinese or Spanish steel. The ring road includes the construction of a third bridge over the Fitzroy River and this bridge alone will require 4600 tonnes of steel girders that if laid back to back would stretch for a kilometre.
We should make sure that the third bridge is made from Australian steel. This week I stood alongside my colleagues Michelle Landry, Colin Boyce, and Senator Paul Scarr to call on the Queensland Government, who are responsible for the tender process, to make that happen.
The steel would come from the Port Kembla steelworks helping its long term viability. The steel would then come through the Gladstone port and travel to Parkhurst where local businesses would benefit from performing fabrication and finishing tasks. From Parkhurst the steel would be just a stone's throw from where the bridge will be built.
Making a Made in Australia requirement would build on the efforts of the Federal Government in recent years. When we were in Government we required the Melbourne to Brisbane rail line, and the Adelaide to Tarcoola rail line, to use Australian steel. This steel came from our other steel plant at Whyalla. As Resources Minister I also pushed for Adani to use Australian steel on the Carmichael rail line which they have done.
The National Party also developed a manufacturing policy that included a proposal to enact a *Buy Australian Act*, which would require major projects to use a set percentage of Australian products.
Since coronavirus there has been a great push to make things in Australia again. The Queensland Government has a Buy Queensland policy. To make this more than talk we need to act, buy Australian and make sure that the storied history of our industrial feats, like the Port Kembla steelworks, are not simply consigned to a museum.