The Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten has written to the Prime Minister urging him to take action and show leadership over the steel crisis in the Illawarra.
This week Bill Shorten, and Labor’s representatives in the Illawarra Stephen Jones and Sharon Bird, met with representatives of BlueScope Port Kembla workers in Canberra. They have conveyed grave concerns regarding the lack of action from the Federal Government.
Addressing the operating conditions that BlueScope is facing can only be done through a partnership of the company, its workforce and the Government.
The workers have shown real leadership and agreed to make their contribution, sacrificing jobs, wages and conditions but we are yet to see anything from the Turnbull Liberal Government.
Former Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane went to Wollongong more than six weeks ago and said that he was working on something that would “…..make a massive difference to the region.”
But the region has heard nothing since. No commitment, no announcement and no action.
Doing nothing is simply not an option.
Labor has urged the Prime Minister to take immediate action to allow steelmaking to continue in the Illawarra, including:
immediately refer issues related to dumped sub-cost steel into Australia to the Anti-Dumping Commission for a preliminary report as soon as possible, including an assessment of the possible harm to local industry and options for actions under World Trade Organisation provisions;
ensure that government leads by example and works with Australian steel producers and their supply chains to ensure we maximise the use of Australian steel in government funded infrastructure projects;
guarantee that the Government will not repeal or weaken the Australian Jobs Act, which gives local manufacturers, both large and small, the opportunity to win work on large Australian projects – the Government must ensure Australian workers are first in line for job vacancies;
reinstate the Illawarra Local Employment Coordinator to help retrenched workers retrain or find alternative employment, and ensure that retrenched workers and contractors immediately qualify for higher level job-seeker assistance and are given opportunities to reskill and retrain at local TAFE colleges;
locate local entrepreneur advisors in the region to help local businesses improve their competitiveness;
help the Illawarra to take advantage of industries that are growing through the NBN, including by establishing a Digital Enterprise Program where local small to medium businesses and young entrepreneurs can train and seek advice on how to make the most of high-speed broadband; and
provide Federal Government support for the Illawarra Digital Strategy.
Labor stands ready to work together with the Government to tackle this crisis, but the Prime Minister must take action.