Labor MPs form new group to fight manufacturing job cuts

Twenty Labor MPs have formed a new parliamentary group to save manufacturing jobs in Australia by encouraging programs to buy Australian products and provide research and development assistance to Australian manufacturing firms.

The formation of the 20-person group comes as as steel makers BlueScope and OneSteel move to cuts steel jobs in Port Kembla, Whyalla and Melbourne, the ABC Illawarra has reported.

Illawarra-based, Throsby MP Stephen Jones who is part of the new group was key player in negoatiatios which saw steel industry secure a $300m assistance package with the introduction of the carbon tax.

Mr Jones told ABC Illawarra that Australian products should be used in major resource projects, to help spread the benefits of the mining boom. "One of the best ways we can do that is ensure local Australian … manufactures are having their products used in those massive resource development projects going on over the next couple of years," he said.

The group will be holding a breakfast forum with representatives from the steel industry and unions next week.

The steel industry has been a main economy for the Illawarra region which now needs to look transition its steelworkers into other industries, such as mining or transport.

Just this week steelmaker OneSteel revealed that it was cutting 400 jobs.