Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (13:56): Last Thursday the Illawarra community witnessed the fall of an icon. At 11.13 am the 200 metre tall Port Kembla copper stack—a figure which had dominated the industrial skyline of the region for almost 50 years—came crashing down. It was a bittersweet moment for me, as I am sure it was for many others who have lived in and around the Port Kembla region and looked up at the stack for the past half-century—people like 78-year-old Maria Leone, who admitted she was clutching a box of tissues as she watched the stack fall from the window of her family home on nearby O'Donnell Street. Mrs Leone was a former employee of MM, just underneath the stack. She said she had fond memories of watching the construction of the giant chimney—a symbol of the Illawarra's emergence as a national industrial power-player—every morning and every afternoon from her desk.
But nothing lasts forever. The Illawarra region has undergone significant economic change over the past 20 years. We are a diversified region. Steel-making and coalmining still play an important role, but there are now major contributions from industries like IT and communications, education services, tourism, financial and property services, health and hospitality. So while the skyline will never look quite the same over Port Kembla, the demolition of the stack may be just what the area needs to continue to move forward and reinvent itself. I am looking forward to seeing what is in store.