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Bluescope Steel Western Port announcement

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SENATOR THE HON CHRIS EVANS Leader of the Government in the Senate Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research Acting Minister for Industry and Innovation


GC 3/13 14 January 2013


The Gillard Labor Government is disappointed that BlueScope Steel will be reducing its workforce at Western Port in Hastings, Victoria.

Our thoughts are with the affected 170 workers and their families at this time.

BlueScope Steel has made it clear that these redundancies are due to a fall in demand for construction materials and the broader pressures on manufacturing, like the high Australian dollar.

The company has confirmed that workers’ entitlements will be honoured and the cut in employment is expected to be met through voluntary redundancies. BlueScope Steel is undertaking a consultation phase with employees and union representatives ahead of job losses in March.

The Government will provide these workers with support to find alternative employment and to acquire new skills through Job Services Australia. The Local Employment Coordinator is working closely with the company and representatives from all levels of Government to organise information sessions for affected workers.

The Gillard Labor Government will continue to work closely with Australian steel producers to ensure strategic investments occur to improve the productivity and sustainability of the industry and its workers.

The Western Port site itself in not facing a shutdown, and is still expected to see around $8 million of new investment to improve the sites’ product range.

As part of the Clean Energy Future package, the Government announced the Steel Transformation Plan to provide assistance worth up to $300 million over five years. Minister Combet announced a $100 million competitiveness assistance advance payment to BlueScope Steel on 20 December 2011. Under this agreement, BlueScope is using the funds to build competitiveness by investing in research and development; undertaking

environmental improvement projects; maintaining equipment; and restructuring operations to focus on key domestic markets.

In addition our anti-dumping reforms, including the establishment of a new Anti-Dumping Commission, will deliver further protection for Australian industry against unfair competition from overseas.

By contrast, Tony Abbott and the Coalition voted against the Steel Transformation Plan and any short term support.

When given the choice between supporting the steel manufacturing sector and its workforce or rank political opportunism, Mr Abbott predictably chose political opportunism.

Comments expressed today by Sophie Mirabella and Greg Hunt about steel sector jobs are the height of hypocrisy on this issue and they should be ashamed.

BlueScope Steel’s restructure more broadly, and the redundancies announced at Western Port in particular, have nothing to do with carbon pricing.

The company has made it abundantly clear that the carbon price will not adversely affect its business and attempts by the Coalition to draw the assumption are both misleading and highly irresponsible.

Media contact: Amy McKenna 0408 570 603