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Labor locked out of steel summit.

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Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600  Phone (02) 6277 4363  Fax (02) 6277 8596


Tuesday, 19 March 2002


“The Howard Government has rejected the idea of a bipartisan fight against the Bush Administration’s tariffs on Australian steel, in favour of closed-door politics.” Shadow Minister for Trade, Dr Stephen Martin said today.

“The Leader of the Opposition wrote to the Prime Minister last week, expressing Labor’s concern about the new US tariff regime, which takes effect tomorrow,” Dr Martin said. “In that spirit, Mr Crean pushed very strongly for the Government to invite me and the Shadow Minister for Industry to the National Steel Summit, which is taking place in Canberra today.

“As late as this morning, I contacted both the Prime Minister’s office and the Minister for Trade’s office, seeking agreement for me to attend the summit, in my capacity as both the Shadow Minister and the local member for many steelworkers in the Illawarra. Mr Vaile stated simply that my presence was ‘not required’.

“The Prime Minister did not even have the decency to respond to Mr Crean’s letter by the time the summit opened.

“Labor considers the US steel tariffs as a matter of vital importance to Australia’s export performance, our industries and workers, and the future of global free trade. But the Government has turned it into a ‘closed shop’.

“Looking back on the Howard Government’s limp response to President Bush’s steel tariff decision, we’re worried that the summit will lack bite. The Government is already well behind the eight ball in fighting the US steel tariffs. Other major steel producers, like the EU and Japan, are leading the charge, taking their objections straight to the WTO.

“There is only one credible decision the Howard Government can produce from this summit: either the US exempts all Australian steel products from the new tariffs and quotas in the next 24 hours, or the Government lodges a formal complaint with the WTO tomorrow. “

More Information: Amanda Walsh on (02) 6277 4363 or 0411 734 569. Available at

Shadow M inister for Trade and Tourism Federal M em ber for Cunningham

Hon Dr Stephen Martin MP