On a day of nationwide rallies by steel workers calling on Tony Abbott to back the Steel Transformation Plan, Greens Senator for NSW Lee Rhiannon says her party's support for the legislation and proposed amendments requiring the government refer to the Green Jobs Illawarra Action plan when allocating the $300 million to the industry was a big step forward for job security in the region.
"The Greens have taken the Greens Jobs Illawarra Action Plan into federal parliament and held it up as a model for similar steel regions suffering economic hardship," Senator Rhiannon said.
"AWU head Paul Howes needs to explain his opposition to the Greens' amendment which will secure a better package for his members than first offered by government.
"The Green Jobs Illawarra Plan has wide support in the region, developed with government by unions, academics, local business, industry, government and education bodies.
"The Green Jobs Action Plan provides a valuable map for BlueScope, allowing the company to become a market leader in sustainable steel manufacturing.
"Wind, solar and hydro energy, which are the power sources of the future, all require steel manufacturing and it is this synergy that can help lift the Illawarra steel industry out of its doldrums.
"Allocating funding from the $300 million Steel Plan to local R&D into sustainable manufacturing, as recommended by the Green Jobs Action Plan, will help drive clean, green industry and jobs.
"There is now a real possibility of returning the region to the steel manufacturing leader it was before the downturn experienced in the 80s.
"Funding from the Steel Package, linked to the Illawarra Jobs Plan, is a win win for the Illawarra.
"Tony Abbott will rightly feel resentment today from steel workers rallying today to secure a future for themselves and their children in the Illawarra.
"While the Steel Package is not perfect, it is an important leg up for the industry and if carefully administered by the government could secure sustainable jobs in the steel industry now and into the future," Senator Rhiannon said.
Contact: Greens Senator for NSW Lee Rhiannon 0487 350 880
The Australian Greens will move an amendment in the Senate in November, to the Steel Transformation Plan Bill 2011, "that the Government, in allocating funds under the Steel Transformation Plan, pay particular regard to the Green Jobs Illawarra Action Plan and any other similar plans in other affected regions."
You can Listen to Lee discuss developments with ABC Illawarra's breakfast program.