Lack of detail set to delay steel bill

The Federal Government's $300 million Steel Transformation Plan faces further uncertainty over whether it will be passed by Parliament, as it was created without details of how the money will be spent.The Steel Transformation Plan Bill was one of 18 pieces of legislation introduced to Parliament yesterday for the Government's carbon pricing regime.Yesterday's bill does not contain the Steel Transformation Plan, but instead says the relevant minister must "make a plan", most likely by way of regulations.It promises $300 million for the steel industry, to be spent by 2016, without specifying what conditions will be attached or what steelmakers will have to do to receive funding.The lack of detail will delay the Greens, who hold the balance of power in the Senate, from deciding whether to support the plan until late in the year."The Greens have said all along that we support jobs in the steel industry in Australia but need to see details of how the Government's plans will work before we make any commitments," deputy leader Christine Milne said."It is worth noting, of course, that since the Government's very generous steel package was announced, BlueScope nevertheless sacked 1000 workers."Taxpayers' funds shouldn't just fill the coffers of companies but be channelled to help workers, companies and communities shift into the clean economy."The Greens saw the bill for the first time yesterday.A spokeswoman for Industry Minister Kim Carr said the industry supported the plan and the details could be released before the end of the year."The steel companies have been consulted on the bill and support it," she said."The Government will release within three months an exposure draft of the details of the scheme."This will set out how the Steel Transformation Plan will operate from July 1, 2012."But Opposition industry spokeswoman Sophie Mirabella said anger was growing towards the Government, which promised to deliver a legislated plan."I think a lot of people in the industry, both business and workers, are going to be very angry that they've been deceived because they're none the wiser really about how this scheme is supposed to work and the guidelines under which it operates," she said."I went to the Steel Institute dinner last night and had a chat with a quite few people, and a lot of them felt they'd been conned."What they were promised is not what has transpired, and I'm sure they must have got some whiff of it [on Monday] before the legislation was officially released in the Parliament."Ms Mirabella said the Coalition would oppose all 18 carbon price-related bills.The Government has said it will deliver the funding with or without legislation, but the steel industry wants it enshrined in law.

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