Illawarra MPs Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones are astonished that the Abbott Government has refused to accept their suggestions which will help the local economy and help people find employment.
Recently, Ms Bird and Mr Jones wrote to senior Government ministers requesting:
The immediate reinstatement of a Local Employment Coordinator in the Illawarra to help people access information about new employment opportunities and training.
The placement of Entrepreneur Program advisers in the region to assist in transitioning the local economy and fostering innovation.
Both of these proposals have been rejected by the Minister for Employment, Eric Abetz, and Minister for Industry, Ian Macfarlane, respectively.
Sharon Bird said that the Governments response was dismaying but that Labor would not give up.
The rejection of the plans we put forward sends a strong signal to the Illawarra that the Abbott Government is asleep at the wheel when it comes to the future of the region.
Labor established the Local Employment Coordinator in the midst of the Global Financial Crisis and this included the formation of a Rapid Response Team to support workers who had lost their jobs. Over the past few months theres been 80 jobs lost at Wollongong Coal, 30 at Illawarra Coal, 20 at AHM, 50 at Fairfax and now 500 jobs are at risk at the Port Kemba Steelworks - these services are needed now more than ever.
Stephen Jones said that Ian Macfarlanes visit to Wollongong tomorrow for the Steel Roundtable was an opportunity to press the federal Government for decisive action.
This is not a good way to start a conversation with the region. Right now, 9,500 people in the Illawarra are looking for work and that figure is set to grow. Im sure many people will be looking to Minister Macfarlane tomorrow for answers.
The Illawarra is in a state of transition and the placement of Entrepreneur Program advisers would have given the local economy a real shot in the arm. We need to do all we can to encourage innovation and growth in the region, so it is incredibly disappointing that Minister Macfarlane has knocked back our proposal.
As Ive said before, we are happy to work with the Government to save the steelworks and boost jobs and growth in the region. Action is needed and it couldnt come soon enough for an anxious Illawarra community.