Crisis meetings at University of Wollongong regarding BlueScope Steel’s future in the region are taking place this morning, involving politicians, unions and others.
The ABC reports that industry minister Ian Macfarlane repeated that the meeting was not about spending money to prop up the troubled steel industry, and no decision had been made on what assistance might be made available.
"We have to see what is going to make the biggest difference and make sure that whatever we do, we have jobs in the region that are going to be there in 10 and 20 years' time," Macfarlane told the ABC.
Any job cuts – BlueScope has said it needed to cut at least 500 jobs – would be painful, but redundancies would not be in the same league as the level seen in the auto industry, said the mininster.
Elsewhere, The Illawarra Mercury reports Macfarlane as saying the meeting would not see any assistance measures announced today, though there were solutions in mind.
‘‘The meeting is about getting a good cross-section of views and seeing what some of the solutions may be,” he told the Mercury.
“There’ll be no announcements.’’
He also dismissed requests by unions and independent senators that government procurement use Australian steel, and pointed out that any discussion on alleged Chinese steel dumping should be separate from BlueScope’s difficulties.
BlueScope announced in August that it needed to cut $200 million in costs from its Australian operations, and that this would require at least 500 jobs be shed at the Port Kebla steelworks.
The company is being squeezed by cheap imported steel, with a surplus in global production currently being seen.