Port Kembla, NSW

Former NSW MP’s, Jennie George, Bob Harrison, Colin Markham and Colin Hollis together issued a statement warning current Government leaders that “a country without steelmaking capacity is unimaginable and not in our national or security interest”.

The former Labor MP’s said the Port Kembla Steelworks, situated south of Wollongong along the New South Wales coast, together with the Australian Seel Industry have played a significant role in the economic and social development not only in their local region, but Australia wide.

“Over decades it has employed tens of thousands of workers and has sustained directly and indirectly many more. It has been the economic life blood of our community,” the joint statement said.

“The decline of this and other manufacturing industries has hit our region hard and has contributed to higher than average rates of unemployment and double digit youth unemployment.

“The threat of a shutdown of the steelworks itself and steel making altogether in this country, however, raises a further question of urgency for action on the part of all key stakeholders.”

BlueScope Steel has been urged to work together with government and unions to save the industry in the Illawarra region. A sustainable and permanent strategy instead of a temporary fix and to address the underlying causes.

BlueScope Steel has reported that their full year underlying profit rose by 9% to $134.1 million, but said depressed steel prices and excess supply were undermining its competitiveness.

With losses hundreds of millions of dollars on the 700,000 tonnes of steel it sells overseas once Australian demand has been met. It is also suffering huge losses in its iron sands operations, which are also under review.

Earnings in the New Zealand iron sands business, which has been hit by a drop in iron ore prices, plummeted 144% to a $33.2 million loss.

In June, BlueScope said its costs of manufacturing steel were too high and it needed a “game-changing approach” to reduce costs.

“The strategic review is well under way and we are committed to the delivery of the targeted savings,” Mr O’Malley, Chief Executive Officer of BlueScope, said.

“If this target is not achievable we will have no option but to move to external supply of quality hot rolled coil and billet steel feed, with mothballing or closure of steel making.”

BlueScope said it would pay a final, fully-franked dividend of 3¢ on October 19.