NSW govt cops criticism over Bluescope handout

Bluescope does not deserve the assistance it received yesterday from the NSW Government and the company should improve its operations on its own, according to a former senior public servant.

"It is very surprising that a Liberal government would do this in what is supposed to be the age of non-entitlement," Tony Harris, a former NSW auditor-general told the AFR.

The NSW government yesterday announced that it had agreed to defer $60m of Bluescope’s payroll tax payments over the next three years. The arrangement means the company will pay the full deferment amount over 10 years from 2020.

David Roberts, the general manager of steel importer Sanwa, criticised Bluescope for accepting the help.

Referring to past legal action that Bluesope has taken against steel importers, Roberts said, "It's a bit hypocritical when they are accusing various countries of taking handouts and attacking them, and then they are getting handouts themselves."

However, according to NSW Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian, the assistance resulted from the ‘unique’ circumstances the steel maker is facing.

'I wanted to make it very clear that this was a specific package given the unique situation BlueScope finds itself in, and given the unique number and scale of jobs at risk – we're talking 4500 jobs,' Ms Berejiklian said.

She said, while each case will be judged on its merits, there is no likelihood that any other companies will receive similar help.