Steelworkers can have their say on the future of the industry when a senate committee visits Wollongong in April.
The Senate Economics Reference Committee, chaired by Labor Senator Chris Ketter, is holding an inquiry into the future of the Australian steel industry.
The committee has agreed to visit Wollongong to hold hearings in early April
While the date of April 1 has been mooted by some sources, there has been no official statement on where and when the hearings will take place.
The committee’s terms of reference are to look into “the future sustainability of Australia’s strategically vital steel industry and its supply chain” as well as any other related matters.
South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris said having the senators attend Wollongong was “an invaluable opportunity”.
It’s a time when the average Joe off the shop floor can tell a senate committee why the steel industry is important to them.
“It’s an opportunity, not just for the steelworkers but the people of the Illawarra generally, to speak with a loud and united voice, to say that our workers and our community have paid a very high price to keep our steel industry going for the entire country,” Mr Rorris said.
“The least the government can do is move on the two burning issues, which are the dumping of steel and the procurement policy; having Australian taxpayer funds stay in the country to purchase Australian-made steel.”
Australian Workers Union Port Kembla Branch Secretary Wayne Phillips has been one of the drivers of the push to save the steelworks and to change federal government policy.
He thanked the efforts of the Greens and independents who, with the support of the ALP, pushed to set up the senate inquiry.
He too saw benefits for the region in the senate visit.
“It’s a time when the average Joe off the shop floor can tell a senate committee why the steel industry is important to them and important to the district,” he said.
“It’s good that they’re coming down. It’s no good them sitting in Canberra. They need to get down and look at the steelworks, see the physical size of it; the taste, the smell, the noise.
“It’d be good for them to actually view it rather than look at pictures in Canberra.”