Xenophon: party would “unashamedly” assist Whyalla

South Australian senator Nick Xenophon has said his party would “unashamedly” use voter support to provide embattled steel and iron ore business Arrium with assistance.

Whyalla News reports that Xenophon said a fair go and “jobs and growth” were not possible if the steel industry is allowed to collapse, “given it’s the bedrock of manufacturing”.

“Whyalla will turn into Australia’s biggest ghost town without Arrium operating and thriving, the cost of assistance now would be a fraction of the cost of the welfare bill and loss in tax revenue if Arrium falls over,” he told Whyalla News.

He added that the Arrium steelmaking operation in Whyalla was in need of upgrades to make it more energy-efficient and able to make higher-value steel products, as well as changes to government procurement laws and anti-dumping action.

Recent Flinders University modelling on the Whyalla steelworks’ closure causing job losses totalling 5,000 were conservative, he said.