Local Federal MPs, Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones, have today written to new Industry Minister, Greg Hunt, inviting him to visit the Illawarra to talk about what the Government plans to do to help sustain a viable steel industry.
Reports today in the Illawarra Mercury indicate that the Minister would only visit the Illawarra if invited.
“Minister Hunt, we invite you to visit the Illawarra,” the local MPs said.
“I’m not sure if the Minister is expecting a gold-embossed invitation but the Illawarra has been begging for the Turnbull Government to pay some attention to the steel crisis but so far, our cries have been ignored,” Sharon Bird said.
“We have had job loss after job loss here in the Illawarra, the Turnbull Government has completely abandoned local workers and local industry.
Stephen Jones said that the MPs were happy to supply a map if the new Minister struggled to work out where the Illawarra was.
“Our aim is to work constructively with the new Industry Ministry on delivering our six point plan to secure the future of steel.
“We want to wipe the slate clean and host a range of meetings to tell the Illawarra story and the importance of the Port Kembla steelworks.”
Bill Shorten and Federal Labor took extensive proposals to the election to work with industry, unions and all levels of government to develop a long term plan for the future of the steel industry, including:
- Ensure that steel used in federally funded projects complies with Australian standards.
- Ensure that anti-dumping regulators have the necessary powers to do their job effectively.
- Create a National Steel Supplier Advocate.
- Seek to maximise the use of locally produced steel in federally funded projects, and put in place regular reporting of usage levels.
- Halve the spending thresholds for Australian Industry Participation Plans.
- Double the funding for the Australian Industry Participation Authority.
The Federal MPs said they would welcome a visit by the Minister to discuss the proposals that have been put forward but fallen on deaf ears to date.
The Illawarra needs a strong sustainable future for the Australian steel industry – it is important for the national economy and the local economy. The new Industry Minister must start being pro-active and put forward a plan to help the steel industry in Australia before it’s too late.