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Monday, 22 August 2011
Page: 8754

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (13:53): This morning BlueScope announced to the stock market that it had posted a $1 billion loss and that as a consequence it would make redundant about 1,000 workers from its operations in Victoria and in New South Wales, including 800 workers who mainly reside in my electorate of Throsby in the Illawarra. In its statement to the stock market, BlueScope cited high input costs, particularly coal and iron ore, the low prices internationally for steel and the very high Australian dollar as the principal reasons for its job losses. A careful reading of the statement shows that their domestic business remains viable but their international market is under incredibly difficult circumstances.

Members of the House would be aware that this is an incredibly difficult time for the workers who are affected, and it creates a lot of anxiety and uncertainty for the employees, contractors, their families and the entire region. I welcome the fact that the government has moved quickly to announce support in the form of a $140 million package. This includes a $30 million fund to assist in diversifying the economic base of the Illawarra, and $10 million which has been set aside for labour market adjustments.

No doubt the major driver is the high Australian dollar. We understand that this will correct in the near future but we must ensure that we have a manufacturing business in Australia when that re-correction occurs. (Time expired)