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.

“But there are also opportunities to transform existing businesses, invest in new technology, develop new jobs, factories and companies and generally boost confidence in the region,” Mr Jones said.

“It will also deliver strong messages to the rest of the country—especially the private sector—that Wollongong is a growing, vibrant region and one to do business with.”

Federal Member for Cunningham, Ms Sharon Bird, said the Taskforce today began to bring forward locally identified issues and to build on existing community mechanisms to inform the response to the BlueScope Steel workforce transition.

“It will also support the implementation of the existing medium term economic development strategy for the Illawarra,” Ms Bird said.

Senator Carr said the Taskforce would not become a permanent body.

“It will transition from the immediate response to a sustainable, long-term engagement role informing the excellent work that Regional Development Australia Illawarra is already doing through its strategic plan.”

Dr Don Russell, the Secretary of the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research chairs the Taskforce.  To see the full list of Members, click here.

For more information on the Government’s assistance for the Illawarra go to www.australia.gov.au/content/support-for-bluescope