Mining Industry | SPEECH


Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart) (17:01:37): I rise today to talk about a topic that weighs very heavily on the hearts of everybody in the Upper Spencer Gulf. I speak as both shadow minister for mineral resources and energy and also as the member for Stuart, being primarily Port Augusta-based. This issue is the challenges facing Arrium/OneSteel at the moment.

They are in a very, very difficult situation, and they are, as an entire corporate body from the ground all the way up, trying to do everything they possibly can to address the challenges that they face. We have already lost nearly 2,000 jobs in the Upper Spencer Gulf and Outback. Between jobs gone from BHP, Santos, Alinta, Arrium and several other companies, we have already lost nearly 2,000 onsite jobs. Compared to the 1,600 jobs that will go from Holden in 2017, it really does put things into perspective. There is the very real threat of losing thousands more from Arrium.

Let me just say, we in the Upper Spencer Gulf have a very healthy competition between the three primary cities, but we are also a very tight family and we stick together as well. We all understand that our futures in the Upper Spencer Gulf, between Port Augusta, Port Pirie and Whyalla, are intimately linked. We will succeed together or we will fail together, and we know that we need every one of the major industries in the Upper Spencer Gulf to thrive for all of us to succeed.

As a Port Augusta-based member of parliament, I take the challenges in Whyalla very seriously, as I know the other members of parliament do. In Whyalla we have Arrium, in Port Augusta we have Alinta, and in Port Pirie we have Nyrstar. Alinta has made it very clear that they plan to leave. Nyrstar has had its challenges, and at the moment is certainly working very well through those challenges. It is important to say that another very significant employer in the Upper Spencer Gulf is the Port Augusta Prison. When Alinta leaves, the Port Augusta Prison will become, by a long way, the largest employer in Port Augusta.

We value all of the industrial employers in our region, and we value incredibly highly the opportunities that their employment provides for other businesses in the district, to again provide more employment. We are very much all in this together. Let me tell you, Deputy Speaker, it does not go without noticing that we have a Liberal member of parliament, in myself; a Labor member of parliament, in the member for Giles; and an Independent member for parliament in the member for Frome.

We clearly would have a wide range of opinions on many issues, but on this area we are united. On this area we work very strongly, very actively and very cooperatively together and we do that in concert with the three mayors of the Upper Spencer Gulf cities and with the member for Grey, the federal member, Rowan Ramsey. We see the challenges that are facing all three of the Upper Spencer Gulf cities as challenges that we need to work together on so that they can be met. It could be nothing further than each of us only sticking up for our own cities and our own areas and not worrying about the others, but nothing further from the truth exists because we know that we need to work together.

I call very earnestly and very genuinely on the state Labor government and the federal Liberal government to apply everything they possibly can, every piece of strategy, every piece of financial resource they can spare, every piece of energy they have at their disposal at the moment, to support Arrium/OneSteel in Whyalla to overcome the difficulties they have. I have been to the mine, I have been to the steelworks, I have met with Arrium senior management, I have met with Arrium workers in both places, I have met with Arrium senior management here at Parliament House on several occasions. They deserve all the support we can give them from whatever quarter of government is possible.

There are nearly 3,000 people still working with Arrium/OneSteel in Whyalla. Arrium/OneSteel combined represent about a third of the employment in Whyalla, so this is a very serious challenge which all of us, from the ground up, all the way through to the Prime Minister and the Premier, need to address in unity so that we can overcome these challenges. Thank you.

At 17:07 the house adjourned until Tuesday 8 March 2016 at 11:00.