As the former Mayor of the Shoalhaven and as a Member of the Legislative Council for New South Wales (NSW) I understand the importance of regional jobs. In regional NSW it is much easier to keep a regional job than having to create a new one.
In the last month, we have seen the Arrium go into voluntary administration with approximately $4billion dollars of debt. This has put many families in Whyalla under a cloud of instability and called approximately 2,800 jobs in New South Wales into question.
Last year we saw the challenges faced by Bluescope Steel, another regional job provider. The CDP, along with the Government, opposition and other cross bench parties, worked to help preserve BlueScope Steel mill in Port Kembla.
We supported the Payroll Tax Deferral (BlueScope Steel) Bill 2015. This bill allows for the deferral of BlueScope Steels payroll tax to the value of $60million dollars, to be paid back over 10 years starting in 2020.
In addition to this the workers agreed to give up 500 jobs and management undertook to reduce costs by up to $200million dollars. Further to this the CDP made representations to the Parliamentary Secretary for Illawarra, Gareth Ward and the Minister for Small Business Hon. John Barilaro requesting re-training scholarships for many of the 500 staff due to redundancies and job losses at Bluescope Steel.
This is an important example of how all parties can come together to preserve Australian business interests. In particular I would like to acknowledge the management and workers of BlueScope steel and their willingness to negotiate in order to preserve this great Australia company.
Further to this, the CDP’s position is to see payroll tax ultimately removed, we understand that this cannot happen overnight. We encourage the Government to continue to reduce payroll tax in NSW. This will improve the competitiveness of NSW businesses within global markets.
Last month, I rose in the Chamber to highlight the importance of regional jobs in regards to Manildra and the threat of the setting of a mandatory price for ethanol. The closure of the Shoalhaven Paper Mill, Pentair and the announcement that Master’s will not be opening in South Nowra, place additional pressures on employment in the regional area of the Shoalhaven.
It is imperative that we work together to preserve and protect Australian businesses where possible to keep regional jobs and boost business confidence.
I will continue to fight to keep regional jobs, as it is far easier to keep a job than to need to create a new one.