More than three months after the Abbott/Turnbull Government’s first roundtable with the community leaders in Wollongong, the Illawarra is still waiting for news on for BlueScope Steel workers and support the economic transition of the region.
On 7 September, former Minister Macfarlane promised that “…a big proposal was being discussed…we’d prefer not to talk about it just yet and that it…. would make a massive difference to the region”.
On 26 October, new Minister Pyne dragged the same community leaders to Sydney to have yet another discussion.
At the original meeting on 7 September, local Federal MPs put forward a plan for steel manufacturing and regional Illawarra jobs:
- Properly resource the Anti-Dumping Commission
- A guaranteed commitment to the Australian Jobs Act
- A commitment for Government to work with industry on procurement
- Support for retrenched workers with the reinstatement of the Illawarra Local Employment Coordinator
- Preparing the region and businesses for the jobs of the future with infrastructure like the NBN.
To date, the Abbott/Turnbull Government has not provided any assistance for the Illawarra.
“We have 500 workers about to lose their jobs at BlueScope, with more job losses from contractors, and the Minister will not even provide a Local Employment Coordinator to help retrenched workers find new employment opportunities,” Sharon Bird said.
“Just yesterday we learnt that at least a dozen truck drivers at South Coast Equipment in Mt St Thomas will also lose their jobs due to the cuts at BlueScope Steel. The Minister needs to step up and offer some assistance to workers who are being retrenched right before Christmas.
“Labor’s proposals are not unreasonable, they are common-sense measures to help the region through tough global conditions.
“It's time for the Prime Minister and his rookie Industry Minister to find their cheque book and set their SatNav to the Illawarra. There is an Australia beyond the capital cities and it deserves the Turnbull Government's attention,” Stephen Jones said.
Come on Minister, stop being a Grinch and ignoring the region. Show some Christmas spirit and help the Illawarra in the lead up to Christmas