Labor investment in BlueScope Steel Assistance Package and the region’s economic development
The Commonwealth Government announced immediate assistance to Wollongong on 22 August following the decision by BlueScope Steel to restructure its operations at Port Kembla.
The Prime Minister announced that the Government would provide $140 million of assistance under the BlueScope Steel Assistance Package. The Package has three main elements:
• $100 million available to BlueScope Steel to help the company restructure its operations and develop new steel products to ensure jobs are maintained and the steel industry continues to remain in the Illawarra. This funding is being brought forward under the Government’s $300 million Steel Transformation Plan, which was developed under the Clean Energy Future package.
• $10 million available to help BlueScope Steel workers and supplier-contractors find new work under the BlueScope Labour Assistance Program (BLAP).
• $30 million available to invest in new business opportunities and innovation under the Illawarra Region Investment and Innovation Fund (IRIIF).
On the 29 August, the Prime Minister and Minister for Industry and Innovation, visited Wollongong and met with a range of the region’s business, union, local government and community stakeholders.
The Prime Minister returned to visit Wollongong on 18 October to address the Regional Development Australia Illawarra (RDAI) third annual Illawarra Regional Leaders Summit.
While in Wollongong, the Prime Minister announced further initiatives to assist the regional economy:
• Extended roll-out of the National Broadband Network to Wollongong and Dapto. Detailed maps of the roll-out in these areas will be available in July and August 2012 respectively.
• $25.5 million towards the Maldon-Dombarton rail link to ensure work is begun on civil engineering, structural, geotechnical and track design.
Since its election in 2007, the Labor Government has provided significant investment Wollongong and the Illawarra region. During the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), nearly $500 million was invested in education and health facilities, each local school, Illawarra Institute of TAFE, and the University of Wollongong.
During this time, the Labor Government also invested in local community infrastructure and local roads.
In the last two years, the Government has invested $213.5 million in the University of Wollongong, including increasing its research capability. In addition, three new buildings have been built during this time with the Government’s assistance:
• $35 million toward the SMART Infrastructure Facility
• $43.8 million toward the Australian Institute for Innovative Materials and
• $25 million toward the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre.