Supporting jobs and households in the Illawarra

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.”

In addition, the Government will introduce a Steel Transformation Plan which will deliver assistance worth up to $300 million over five years to encourage investment and innovation in the Australian steel manufacturing industry.

“The steel sector is under pressure from factors other than a carbon price, including the high Australian dollar and increases in commodity and raw materials prices,” Mr Combet said.

“The Steel Transformation Plan has been developed in consultation with the sector, including BlueScope, and will help transform steel into an efficient and sustainable industry in the low carbon economy of the future.”

The Jobs and Competitiveness Program will also shield Blue Circle Southern Cement from 94.5 per cent of the cost impact of a carbon price.

The Member for Throsby, Stephen Jones, said jobs in the Illawarra would also be supported by the Government’s $1.3 billion Coal Sector Jobs Package which will focus on coal mines most strongly affected by the carbon price.

Coal mines with high levels of “fugitive” emissions of methane gas – known as gassy mines – will be eligible for assistance in the form of cash grants over the next five years.

“This will provide significant levels of assistance to the Illawarra’s gassiest coal mines,” Mr Jones said.

“In addition, the Government’s Coal Mining Abatement Technology Support Package will provide grants to coal mine operators for R&D and deployment of technologies to reduce emissions in coal mines.”

The Government’s clean energy plan will also ensure families and households in the region have more disposable income to help with the modest impacts of the carbon price on the cost of living.

The Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, said the Government would use tax cuts, increases to family payments and pensions, benefits and allowances to provide the highest levels of assistance to people on low and middle incomes.

“Nationally this assistance will provide more than four million Australian households with an extra buffer of assistance which will be at least 20 per cent higher than the expected average price impact they face,” she said.

“In the Illawarra there will be strong assistance through the pensions and benefits system and people in work will also benefit from tax cuts on top of higher family payments.”

In the Illawarra’s two federal electorates of Cunningham and Throsby:

  • More than 55,200 pensioners will receive an extra $338 extra per year if they are single, and up to $510 per year for couples combined, in their pension payments;
  • More than 21,900 families will receive household assistance through their family assistance payments;
  • More than 3,500 self‐funded retirees will receive an extra $338 per year in assistance for singles and up to $510 per year for couples combined;
  • More than 8,400 Jobseekers will get up to $218 extra per year for singles and $390 per year for couples combined;
  • More than 4,600 single parents will get an extra $289 per year;
  • More than 5,500 students will get up to $177 extra per year (the amount will depend on their rate and type of payment, for example Austudy, Abstudy, or Youth Allowance).