Click here to watch Sharon’s speech
Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (13:36): As we go into the Christmas season, it is going to be quite a tough time for hundreds of people in the Illawarra because of the loss of a significant number of jobs at BlueScope Steel. The reason I want to talk to the House today is that Minister Macfarlane, the minister at the time, came to our region and held a round table, at which many leaders across industry, community and the unions came together to put proposals before the minister about ways in which this government could support our region. Then he was no longer the minister, and a new minister, Minister Pyne, came in. He called us up to Sydney for a round table so we could all sit around and put proposals forward again.
We have seen nothing from this government in terms of a program of support for our region, despite the fact that they raised expectations by saying that they had some huge proposal that they were going to announce that would transform our region. Then, on Monday, the minister stood at that dispatch box and not only boasted about an innovation fund rolling out in Geelong, when he has done nothing for the Illawarra, but then quite extraordinarily said that the Port Kembla plant was in the seat of Gilmore! So it should be no surprise that today the Illawarra Mercury has run this front page, asking:
Does he even know where the Illawarra is? It is about time this government stepped in and gave the support that it promised.