Australian Government Rallies as Bluescope Steel Reduces Operations

Canberra, ACT, Australia ( August 23, 2011

Australian Government Rallies as Bluescope Steel Reduces Operations

Australian Government Rallies as Bluescope Steel Reduces Operations

The Gillard Labor Government will provide immediate and practical support to affected workers and communities following BlueScope Steel’s decision to reduce its operations.

These support measures are in addition to the new advance facility announced by the Government today that will allow BlueScope to bring forward up to $100 million of payments under the Government’s Steel Transformation Plan.

The Gillard Labor Government is standing shoulder to shoulder with the communities of the Illawarra and Mornington Peninsula in these tough times, with practical support to help workers find new jobs and strengthen local economies. The Government’s package of worker and community support includes:

  • An Investment and Innovation Fund of $30 million to support new business ventures and create innovative, high-skilled jobs, predominantly in manufacturing and manufacturing services in the region. This fund will be made up of $20 million from the Commonwealth Government and further contributions of $5 million from the NSW State Government and $5 million from BlueScope Steel.
  • Assistance of up to $10 million from the Commonwealth Government for immediate access to intensive services by Job Services Australia providers and training assistance to help affected workers find work in industries where there are more job opportunities.
  • The appointment of Dr Don Russell, Secretary of the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, to lead a whole-of-Government response to the BlueScope announcement and to work with local stakeholders on a coordinated structural adjustment strategy for the region.
  • A Local Employment Coordinator to provide practical advice at the local level and ensure workers get the help they need when they need it.  The Local Employment Coordinator will also build partnerships between government, business and the community to generate economic activity and jobs in the local economy.
  • Onsite visits by Job Services Australia staff, Local Employment Coordinator and Centrelink. In addition, a dedicated hotline to fast-track referrals to Jobs Services Australia or alternative service providers who will help individuals to find new employment, taking into account their specific circumstances.
  • Fast-tracked relocation assistance for BlueScope workers who have been made redundant and who find employment in another location.  Normally, a person must have been unemployed for three months before becoming eligible for this assistance – however BlueScope workers who have been made redundant will be immediately eligible for payments of up to $6000 of relocation assistance, with an additional $3000 in the case of families with dependent children.
  • Free financial advice provided through Centrelink’s network of Financial Information Service Officers, and other personal support through Centrelink’s network of Social Workers.

This comprehensive response will be monitored and reviewed to ensure the measures are effective in meeting the needs of businesses, workers and the communities. The Government will respond further if necessary to ensure the affected communities make a successful economic transition.

For information about any of the assistance available in this package, call the Australian Government Bluescope Support Hotline on 1800 107 233.

As the causes of BlueScope’s decision are a result of broader economic factors – particularly the high Australian dollar – which are impacting in different ways right across Australia, the Gillard Government has been taking action at a national level to strengthen our patchwork economy.  For example, the Gillard Government has announced measures to:

  • Cut company tax to 29 per cent, with a head-start for small businesses, using revenue from the Minerals Resource Rent Tax, if passed by the Parliament, to boost businesses which are not in the mining boom fast lane.
  • Provide a major tax concession to small business in the form of an up-front instant asset write-off, using revenue from the Minerals Resource Rent Tax, if passed by the Parliament.  This tax relief will be available for each and every asset under $6500 purchased by a small business, as well as for the first $5000 of the cost of a motor vehicle.
  • Deliver a $3 billion skills and training package in this year’s Budget that will put industry and business at the heart of our national training system, including through new measures to boost apprenticeship completion.

The Gillard Government is determined to continue strengthening our economy and providing practical measures to support employment, businesses and communities in our patchwork economy.

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