Speaking at the Illawarra Manufacturing Expo hosted by Member for Throsby Stephen Jones and Member for Cunningham Sharon Bird, Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr said manufacturing was an essential part of the local and national economy. “The Government knows that times are tough right now for manufacturing. This Expo is showing local firms that we will work with them to transform manufacturing in the country and create the high-skill, high-wage jobs of the future,” Senator Carr said. “Today’s Expo has been organised by Sharon and I because we are keenly aware of the immediate need for support and information for local employers about the range of government assistance available, as well as providing the opportunity for the Minister to hear directly from manufacturers about the challenges they are currently facing,” Mr Jones said. At the Expo, the Minister and local Members highlighted the $30 million Illawarra Region Innovation and Investment Fund, announced last week in response to job losses at BlueScope Steel. Continue reading
Prime Minister Julia Gillard met with BlueScope Steel workers, business leaders and union heads in the Illawarra today to discuss plans to keep the region strong and prosperous. After listening to workers at BlueScope Steel’s plant at Port Kembla, the Prime Minister hosted a business and union roundtable in Wollongong. The Government’s assistance package was discussed at the meeting along with potential opportunities for the local community to work together to create a sustainable manufacturing future in the region. The Prime Minister was joined by Innovation Minister Kim Carr, Member for Cunningham Sharon Bird, Member for Throsby Stephen Jones, NSW Minister for the Illawarra Greg Pearce MLC, local business owners, unions and other key members of the Illawarra community. The Prime Minister confirmed the Government’s commitment to developing a prosperous local economy and sustaining high-wage, high-skill jobs in the region. The $30 million Illawarra Region Innovation and Investment Fund will strengthen the Illawarra region by stimulating investment and diversifying the economic and employment base now and into the future. The fund is a joint initiative between the Australian and New South Wales Governments and BlueScope. Continue reading
The Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr, will visit Wollongong on 30 August to launch an Illawarra Manufacturing Expo being convened by Federal Illawarra Labor MPs, Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones. “Given the specific challenges of the manufacturing industry flowing from a high Australian dollar and the BlueScope Steel announcement yesterday, we want to bring together a range of Commonwealth Government agencies which are available to provide high-level services and advice to manufacturing businesses in the region. “There is also an opportunity for the University of Wollongong and the regional manufacturing sector to establish a growing partnership to develop new ideas and innovations, which will create new business opportunities. “The Commonwealth Government has already been investing to secure the future of the regional manufacturing sector by building the $43.8 million Australian Institute of Innovative Materials Processes, the $25 million Sustainable Buildings Research Centre and the roll-out of the National Broadband Network”, Ms Bird said. Continue reading
Federal Member for Cunningham Sharon Bird and Federal Member for Throsby, Stephen Jones today welcomed the $140 million in measures being put in place by the Gillard Government to assist Bluescope steelworkers and the Illawarra community that will be affected by today’s announcement. “This rapid and comprehensive response from the Gillard Government is a vote of confidence in the future of the Illawarra economy and in our capacity to meet the immediate challenges posed by today’s Bluescope announcement,” Mr Jones said. “The $140 million package that is being put in place today by the Gillard Government will provide strong, practical assistance to help workers deal with a bitterly disappointing day in their working lives,” Ms Bird said. “Although not unexpected, today’s announcement of the closure of the No 6 Blast Furnace in early October is nonetheless a heavy blow to the local economy,” Ms Bird said. “It has been clear for some time that the sustained high Australian dollar was taking a toll on the profitability of Bluescope in the steel export market and that they could not continue to compete indefinitely in these unfavourable global market conditions,” Mr Jones said. “The Illawarra has faced tough times in the past and come through them and I am confident that we can do the same again this time,” he said. “In addition to bringing forward $100 million of payments under the Steel Transformation Plan, the Government is putting in place a range of measures to assist affected workers including Job Services Australia assistance, relocation assistance and a raft of training and employment assistance,” Ms Bird said.
Work will begin soon on getting the Maldon to Dombarton Rail Link project ‘shovel ready’ ahead of its possible inclusion in Federal Labor’s next multibillion dollar road and rail construction program. Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said approval had been given for the release of the $25.5 million needed to complete the planning and detailed design work, with these pre-construction activities to be undertaken by Transport for NSW. “In line with the commitment given by the Prime Minister late last year, we are determined to progress this infrastructure project and cement the Illawarra’s status as one of our nation’s most important industrial powerhouses,” said Mr Albanese. “When it comes to infrastructure, Federal Labor means and does what it says. “What’s more, the progress of recent years after more than two decades of inaction is a tribute to the local community’s success at keeping the vision alive as well as the tireless lobbying efforts of their elected representatives, Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones.” The preconstruction activities are expected to be completed within the next two years. The project involves laying 35 kilometres of standard gauge track connecting Port Kembla directly to the Main North South Line via Dombarton. It would also include two passing loops, bridges over the Nepean and Cordeaux Rivers and one of Australia’s longest tunnels (see attached map). Continue reading
The Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr, will visit Wollongong on 30 August to launch an Illawarra Manufacturing Expo being convened by Federal Illawarra Labor MPs, Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones. “Given the specific challenges of the manufacturing industry flowing from a high Australian dollar, we want to bring together a range of Commonwealth Government agencies which are available to provide high-level services and advice to manufacturing businesses in the region. “There is also an opportunity for the University of Wollongong and the regional manufacturing sector to establish a growing partnership to develop new ideas and innovations, which will create new business opportunities. “The Commonwealth Government has already been investing to secure the future of the regional manufacturing sector by building the $43.8 million Australian Institute of Innovative Materials Processes, the $25 million Sustainable Buildings Research Centre and the roll-out of the National Broadband Network”, Ms Bird said. Continue reading
The Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, has today welcomed the Commonwealth Government’s initial response to the Productivity Commission report into disability care and support. “The report by the Productivity Commission has set out, at the request of the Commonwealth Government, a comprehensive vision for a new system of disability care providing individuals with the support they need over their life time. “The report outlines the creation of schemes that would ensure that every Australian can have confidence that they will be taken care of, and receive the support needed, if they acquire a disability, or are born with a disability. “The report concludes that the current disability support system is unfair, underfunded, fragmented and inefficient. “The bottom line is that disability care and support should be based on a person’s need, not on what kind of disability they have, how they acquired it, or where they live. “I am pleased that the Prime Minister, on behalf of the Commonwealth Government, has today outlined the next steps to be taken at all levels of government working together to start the process to ensure that Australia’s disability care and support services are part of a new era”, Ms Bird said.
Wollongong and the Southern Highlands could be part of a high speed rail network connecting Brisbane to Melbourne, according to a Phase 1 High Speed Rail study MPs, Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones said this morning. The Phase 1 Feasibility Study released today has identified two possible corridors roughly following the contours of the Hume Highway via the Southern Highlands and the Princes Highway via Wollongong and the Southern Highlands. Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, said, “This is great news for Wollongong and the Illawarra which could be part of the biggest nation-building project in Australia’s history no matter which corridor is ultimately identified. “Of the two possible corridors described in the Phase 1 feasibility study, the Illawarra could be connected to a high speed rail line running along Australia’s east coast. Continue reading
The Greens Party Leader, Senator Bob Brown, instead of planning a visit to Wollongong, should just issue a media statement today to reassure steel workers and coal miners about their jobs, Federal Illawarra Labor MP’s Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones said this afternoon. “All that Senator Brown is required to do is say a simple ‘yes’ to the Commonwealth Government’s $300 million Steel Transformation Plan and $1.3 billion Coal Sector Jobs Package. “He had the chance to just say ‘yes, the Greens Party will support the Government’s steel and coal package’ on ABC Illawarra this morning. Instead, he dissembled, ducked and weaved. “Senator Brown has had months to consider this package. He sat on the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee. He knows the details of this package. “Senator Brown should just say ‘yes’ – very simple, very easy – three little letters to reassure steel workers and coal miners in this region”, Ms Bird said. Stephen Jones said, “The Greens Party and Senator Brown have exactly the same position as Tony Abbott, Barnaby Joyce, Joanna Gash and Concetta Fierravanti-Wells at the moment. None of them support steel workers and coal miner’s jobs in the Illawarra. “It is extraordinary that Senator Brown says he needs to visit Wollongong to talk to steel workers and management. “He can tell the workers in the Illawarra steel and coal industries today that the Greens Party will join the Government in support of their livelihood”, he said.
Jobs and households in the Illawarra region will benefit from significant support under the Gillard Government’s plan for a clean energy future. As well as a carbon price, which will cut pollution and drive innovation, the plan includes extensive measures to support jobs in local industries like steel making, cement production and coal mining. People in the Illawarra will also benefit from the Government’s household assistance measures – tax cuts, higher Family Tax Benefit payments and increases in pensions, benefits and allowances. The Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Greg Combet said supporting jobs in regions like the Illawarra had been a central priority for the Government when it designed the carbon price policy. “The Government will provide strong support for jobs in the Illawarra by assisting steel manufacturing and coal mines which emit high levels of methane gas,” Mr Combet said. “BlueScope Steel’s Port Kembla plant will be eligible for assistance under the Government’s $9.2 billion Jobs and Competitiveness Program. “The steel industry is emissions‐intensive but faces strong international competition – that is why the Jobs and Competitiveness Program will shield steel manufacturing activities from 94.5 per cent of the carbon price.” Continue reading