Rail project ‘can help’ BlueScope

NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon (centre) says the federal funding for an inland rail project will benefit BlueScope - even though it doesn't make rails. Picture: Georgia Matts

NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon (centre) says the federal funding for an inland rail project will benefit BlueScope - even though it doesn't make rails. Picture: Georgia Matts

The federal government’s Inland Rail project could benefit BlueScope, according to NSW Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon.

But the Port Kembla steelmaker doesn’t make “long products” like train tracks.

In last week’s federal budget, the government put forward $8.4 billion to fund an inland rail line from Melbourne to Brisbane.

Sen Rhiannon – one of the drivers of last year’s steel bill pushing for mandatory minimums on steel use in government projects – said using Australian steel in this project “would be fantastic for regional NSW”.

“Steel will be required to build 500 kilometres of new track as part of the 1700-kilometre Inland Rail route,” Sen Rhiannon said.

“This will require about 65,000 tonnes of steel at a cost of more than $90 million.

“It would be highly irresponsible of the Turnbull government to turn their back on this great opportunity to secure thousands of jobs for regional Australia and give an economic boost to Port Kembla.”

It is the Arrium plant in South Australia that is the only provider of rail lines in Australia, not BlueScope.

When asked how BlueScope would benefit when it would not be involved, she said it was a case a rising tide floating all boats.

“What assists one part of the steel industry assists another part of the steel industry,” Sen Rhiannon said.

“Every time an Australian company wins a benefit, it’s a benefit for all. And I’m sure that some steelworkers in the Illawarra very much understand that; they can see that if they or Arrium gets a contract the Australian industry wins.”

She added that BlueScope could “diversify” and make the rails for the project.