Statement - Steel Industry

Ms BIRD(Cunningham) (10:36): This evening a very important meeting will be occurring in Wollongong, and if it were not for the fact that the House will be sitting the member for Whitlam and I would definitely be there. The Save our Steel committee has convened the public meeting to be held this evening in particular because at this point in time there is legislation before the state parliament that is looking at a strong proposal put forward, which the Labor team are committed to progressing, to provide real opportunities for a strong and vibrant steel industry into the future and to protect long-term jobs. Of course, this meeting occurs in the aftermath of the decisions we saw last week in relation to the loss of car manufacturing across this country.

Ms BIRD(Cunningham) (10:36): This evening a very important meeting will be occurring in Wollongong, and if it were not for the fact that the House will be sitting the member for Whitlam and I would definitely be there. The Save our Steel committee has convened the public meeting to be held this evening in particular because at this point in time there is legislation before the state parliament that is looking at a strong proposal put forward, which the Labor team are committed to progressing, to provide real opportunities for a strong and vibrant steel industry into the future and to protect long-term jobs. Of course, this meeting occurs in the aftermath of the decisions we saw last week in relation to the loss of car manufacturing across this country.

It would not be a surprise to the House that the member for Whitlam and I are very concerned to ensure the future of the steel industry is kept on the agenda. Labor took to the last election a very strong platform around actions that could be put in place to support our steel industry, but we have seen a very, very mild, tepid and disinterested response from the government.

I will acknowledge that the new minister actually came to the Illawarra in the last few weeks—that was a great improvement. Minister Pyne, when he had the portfolio, thought that the Port Kembla steel works was somewhere near Nowra, so it was good to see the new minister take an interest. Unfortunately, he did not bring any commitments or announcements that would give us hope that there will be a better policy position from this government, so it is really good to see our Labor colleagues at the state level backing a strong platform for the future of the steel industry. So while we cannot be there this evening there is no doubt that our support an commitment to those campaigners stands firm.

I would like also to acknowledge that our state Labor colleagues will be there as will Mr Paul Scully, the Labor candidate for the state seat of Wollongong. He is a champion candidate; a fantastic candidate. Unfortunately the Liberal Party have squibbed it. They are not even going to defend their record in the Illawarra by putting a candidate up. It is a pretty shameful record, so perhaps we can well understand that. But I know that Paul Scully will be there taking a great interest in these issues and will continue to provide very strong support to the future of not only our steel-making industry and our fabricating industry but the broader manufacturing industry across our region. 

If you want to talk jobs and growth you cannot continue with pathetic, weak and disinterested policies in industry and manufacturing. We need better in the Illawarra. Labor is delivering on that at the federal and state levels, and we will continue to hold both governments to account for better policies in this area.

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