Illawarra MPs Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones have called on Industry Minister Christopher Pyne to come out of hiding and visit Port Kembla to discover how the steel industry actually works.
Despite serving as Industry Ministerfor more 200 daysMr Pyne has still not visited the Illawarra. He has also shied away from local media scrutiny, refusing to conduct a radio interview with ABC Wollongong just this morning.
Sharon Bird said that his continued absence was disgraceful.
Last October when the situation at the steelworks was very serious Mr Pyne convened a roundtable but held it in Sydney.
Then later in the year he mistakenly claimed that the Port Kembla steelworks were in the electorate of Gilmore, not in the Illawarra. Its hardly surprising that he got this wrong, he doesnt know a thing about the region and has refused to even pay a visit.
Yesterday, Labor delivered a six-point plan to secure metals manufacturing jobs in Australia. Unlike the Coalition, we are fighting for the future of steel right alongside the workers at Port Kembla.
Stephen Jones said that the Government needed to focus less on themselves and more on Australias steel industry.
If strong decisions are taken now we can protect steel jobs well into the future. Labor understands this, thats why we want to maximise the use locally-produced steel in government projects and strengthen anti-dumping mechanisms.
But the Government is asleep at the wheel. They only want to talk about themselves and who is really in charge, Mr Pyne cant even locate the Port Kembla steelworks on a map.
The situation is becoming embarrassing for the Coalition. We now know that Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis has been encouraging the Industry Minister to visit the Illawarra, but he has refused.
She reckons the only reason he hasnt visited the region is because he can spend that time on other matters. But that isnt good enough, local workers and their families deserve a Minister that is in touch with their concerns and willing to listen.
The nations Industry Minister has been completely missing in action. He doesnt want to front up to the Illawarra because his Government doesnt have a plan for steel and he knows it.