Speeches

Constituency Statement Steel Industry

Mr RAMSEY (GreyGovernment Whip) (10:39): Sometimes I'm asked why I'm in parliament and asked: 'What do you achieve?' Last Friday was a graphic example of what can be done when people work together, and that is the handover of the Arrium assets to Liberty House—GFG Alliance—and one Sanjeev Gupta, a British citizen.

So in Whyalla we had a wonderful day last Friday. We gathered in Wilson Park for some speeches and some loud cheering from the crowd, I must say. Then we marched the two kilometres or more to Ada Ryan Gardens, where we had basically a union rally. Let me say that the unions have much to be proud of over their cooperation in making sure that the Whyalla steelworks survive. They have much to celebrate, and I was very pleased to celebrate with them.

I first met Sanjeev Gupta back in November last year on his first visit to Australia to cast his eye over the Whyalla assets or the Arrium assets in general. I was very impressed—very impressed indeed. He's a very focused gentleman. He really knows what he wants, and I think he knows how to go about getting it. He has a great track record in reviving broken-down, disused steel plants. I think he brings all that expertise to Whyalla. He intends to invest $1.3 billion in the near term, and he's also looking at the possibility of expanding Whyalla to a new plant and a four- or five-million-tonnes-a-year plant. He plans to invest in co-generation—we already have co-generation at the plant, but it's aged and could be much more efficient—eventually virtually taking it off the grid, and in rail-head-hardening facilities. There are a wide range of things that he will be investing in.

One of the most important things is that the blast furnace has a place label of about 1.3 to 1.4 million tonnes a year. It's been running at about 900,000 or 950,000, which is enough to supply the Australian market. But he's going to turn it right up. We're going to get the maximum out of it. He is going to take the extra steel in billet form back to Scotland, where he has presses to turn it into flat steel. He said it may even come back to Australia then. At the moment, he's buying that steel from Russia. He said it makes sense for him to take it from Australia. He has a very good long-term investment plan.

I'm very pleased that we had good state and federal cooperation on this and very pleased with my role in bringing the federal government on board, I must say. Over $130 million has been invested by the federal government already. I led an inquiry in the last parliament into circumvention of antidumping rulings. We've seen some very good action out of the Anti-Dumping Commissioner.

I'd like to thank Greg Hunt, Scott Morrison, Arthur Sinodinos and, most importantly, the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turn

 

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