Job opportunities on display at Illawarra Jobs Market

BlueScope Steel workers will be able to access information about the Australian Government’s support measures and re-employment opportunities at a Jobs Market at the Illawarra Hockey Stadium, Unanderra, tomorrow and Saturday. Many local and interstate companies interested in employing BlueScope workers will be there to meet workers face-to-face to discuss their job vacancies. Minister for Jobs, Senator Chris Evans, said the Jobs Market will focus not only on BlueScope workers but also on those who may lose their jobs in related businesses. “I urge Australian employers in related industries to give BlueScope workers special attention for recruitment,” Senator Evans said. “For those BlueScope workers who decide to relocate for employment, the Gillard Government’s support package includes a grant of up to $6000 for relocation and another $3000 for those with dependent children.”   Continue reading

Manufacturing future in the Illawarra

The Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, told the House of Representatives last night that she remained committed to ensuring that manufacturing has a bright future in the Illawarra. Ms Bird said in a speech that: The Illawarra region makes things. The Illawarra region will continue to make things. The future of manufacturing in the Illawarra is through innovation…and productivity… She told the House of Representatives that the Commonwealth Government had three main priorities following the announcement that BlueScope Steel would restructure its operations, including ensuring that all affected workers at BlueScope Steel and the company’s supplier-contractors are given every possible assistance; the establishment of the $30 million Investment and Innovation Fund and continuing to diversify the economic base of the region.   Continue reading

Cash flow benefit for 10,000 small businesses in Wollongong

Nearly 10,000 small businesses in Wollongong will benefit from tax law changes that will improve cash flow, reduce red tape and simplify depreciation rules, Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, said this afternoon. “The Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Small Business today released public consultation exposure draft legislation outlining the Commonwealth Government’s amendments to tax laws. “The consultation period is open until Wednesday, 28 September, and I encourage individual small businesses, the Illawarra Business Chamber and Australian Industry Group to participate in these consultations”, she said. The Commonwealth Government’s package will allow for small businesses to: Immediately write-off assets valued at under $6500, such as photocopiers, laptops, fridges and desks; Immediately write-off up to $5000 for motor vehicles acquired from 2012-13 income year, with the remainder to be written-off at a rate of 15 percent in the first year and 30 percent in the following year, and Write-off of other assets in a single depreciation pool at a rate of 30 percent. “These changes which are effective from the 2012-13 income year will help improve cash flow for small businesses, reduce red tape and simplify depreciation rules for assets. “These changes will help small businesses in Wollongong plan for the purchase of assets to help their business grow and expand”, Ms Bird said.

Support starts as Illawarra Taskforce holds first meeting

The Government’s new Illawarra Stakeholder Taskforce of key local business, community and civic groups and representatives today held its first meeting at the Innovation Campus of the University of Wollongong. Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr said the Taskforce’s priority was to help coordinate the Governments services for the workers impacted by the restructure of BlueScope Steel. “The Taskforce is working closely with the Government's working group that oversees and coordinates the entire government support package for the region,” Senator Carr said. “This process has worked successfully in other areas around the country and today we saw it begin for the Illawarra.” Federal Member for Throsby, Mr Stephen Jones, said there were costs in reinvigorating the area. Continue reading

Boost for local pensioners on the way

Wollongong pensioners are set to receive an increase in their payments to help balance the household budget, Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, said today. “From 20 September, single age, disability and carer pensioners receiving the maximum rate of pension, will receive an extra $19.50 per fortnight. “Pensioner couples combined on the maximum pension rate will receive an extra $29.60 per fortnight. “Pensioners in my electorate are benefiting from an improved indexation system put into place by the Federal Labor Government to ensure that pensions keep up with the cost of living”, Ms Bird said. Pensions are now indexed twice each year (March and September) to match the higher increase of two measures: the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or the Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index. “Over the last two year, two of the four pension increases have been the result of the Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Index. “The Commonwealth Government understands that local pensioners are on a fixed income, and it is important to index their pension to ensure that as the cost of living increases, their pension payment matches it”, she said. Following the indexation increases from 20 September, total pension payments for people on the maximum rate, including the base rate and pension supplement, will be: $748.80 per fortnight for singles, and $1,129.00 per fortnight for couples combined.

Funding to benefit Illawarra region youth services

Services for young people with high needs in the Illawarra region will be improved with the announcement of $2.26 million in funding for a $4.83 million therapeutic care service. Federal Minister for Regional Australia Simon Crean today announced that funding for the centre has been provided to Youth Off the Streets Inc as part of the first round of the Regional Development Australia Fund (RDAF), worth almost $1 billion. The project, located in Cordeaux Heights, involves the refurbishment of a 1970s style detention centre into a care centre for 16 people with high needs. The existing facility will be transformed into a modern, environmentally conscious facility providing services based on innovative therapy models and rehabilitation for young people. “Project Cordeaux will directly support the regional community buy establishing services that produce both a community service and an educational output,” Mr Crean said. Member for Cunningham Sharon Bird said this was a great project that will not only benefit the local community, but the surrounding regional areas as well. Continue reading

Assistance for Illawarra businesses

Fifty local businesses in the Illawarra region will receive expert, one-on-one coaching to help them identify opportunities for growth and the creation of new jobs. This is thanks to a $98,000 Gillard Labor Government Enterprise Connect grant to Regional Development Australia (RDA) Illawarra. Announcing almost $500,000 for seven regional business development programs, Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr and Regional Development Minister Simon Crean said the funding would help develop strong regional partnerships between businesses, communities, industries, researchers and governments. “These partnerships will help create jobs and transform firms,” Senator Carr said. “The funding to RDA Illawarra will help them collaborate with local firms and tertiary institutions to give Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama businesses the skills to identify and exploit possible national and global niche markets,” Mr Crean said. Member for Cunningham Sharon Bird and Member for Throsby Stephen Jones said the diversification into new processes and markets is essential for the local business community which will be hard hit by BlueScope Steel’s recent decision. Continue reading

Innovating to create new products, processes and jobs

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

Working together to secure the Illawarra's future

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

Illawarra Manufacturing Expo all the more important

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