Labors Federal Illawarra MPs, Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones, have welcomed the Minister for Industry and Sciences announcement that he will meet with key stakeholders in Wollongong to discuss a long-term economic strategy for the region.
The announcement follows Labors call for immediate Federal Government action to assist the region following BlueScopes announcement that up to 500 jobs could be axed from the Port Kembla Steelworks.
The first point of discussion needs to be a commitment to work with the company and the community to ensure we still make steel in the Illawarra, said Mr Jones.
While much of the hard work will fall to BlueScope, its workers, unions and suppliers, government has to do its fair share too. We particularly need to practical and ongoing support for workers who are going to lose their jobs.
When BlueScope closed a blast furnace and laid off 800 workers in 2011 Labor was quick to respond with a package for the region, said Ms Bird.
In 2011 Labor put in place a package to support workers, businesses and industry through the difficult transition and I believe that a similar approach is needed today.
Following his meeting with key stakeholders, the Minister for Industry and Science must explain what the government is going to do to support affected workers and their families.
In 2011 Labor established a $30 million Regional Innovation and Investment Fund to encourage investment in the region. An additional $10 million was set aside for labour market assistance for affected workers.
In 2012 Labor advanced the company $100 million from its Steel Transformation Plan to BlueScope.
Labor was delivering fibre-to-the-premises to the Illawarra to stimulate small and home based businesses. The Coalition has cancelled much of this rollout in favour of its second rate version.
All options should be on the table for the meeting proposed for 7 September.
TUESDAY, 25 AUGUST 2015