Arrium assistance hinted at ahead of PM Whyalla visit

A rescue package for Arrium’s Whyalla steelworks is being considered by the federal government, according to South Australian premier Jay Weatherill.

A rescue package for Arrium’s Whyalla steelworks is being considered by the federal government, according to South Australian premier Jay Weatherill.

The ABC reports that Wetherill met prime minister Malcolm Turnbull last night in Adelaide, with Turnbull “very prepared” to agree to a federal contribution to saving the steelworks. Weatherill did not say what form this might take.

"[However] there are things the Commonwealth could do which could make a very big difference to the future viability of Arrium," Weatherill told the ABC. He added that there was a “tight timeline” for action.

Arrium announced last month that it was undertaking studies on the impact of mothballing the Whyalla site, with these scheduled to be complete in April.

Turnbull arrived at Adelaide this morning and set to visit Whyalla shortly.

AAP reported yesterday that industry minister Christopher Pyne hinted, "I'm using the levers that are available to me as the minister to do things that are immediately within my power to help the Whyalla steelworks."

"Arrium is doing their part, the employees of Arrium are doing their part and I'm very confident we'll be able to work our way through it."

Weatherill is about to head to the US to meet officials from Pittsburgh and Detroit, heavy industry heartland centres that have been hit by factory closures.

South Australia is going through related troubles, with Holden set to close its Elizabeth factory next year and over 1,000 jobs at risk if the Whyalla steelworks closes. It currently has the highest unemployment of any state, and Weatherill said there was a chance of it becoming a “rust belt” state.

"We have massive challenges ahead of us but we can either see them as a threat or as an opportunity,” said the premier.