It’s good to be here at OneSteel here in Whyalla with Simon Birmingham, the Senator for South Australia. This is a very important industrial plant for Whyalla, for South Australia and for our whole country. It’s along with the BlueScope plant at Port Kembla the largest steel making facility in Australia and steel is integral to a modern economy. You can’t have a modern economy without steel and you can’t produce steel without the very large use of energy and without large emissions of carbon dioxide, that’s just one of the inevitable by-products of making steel.
Obviously, the Prime Minister’s proposed carbon tax is going to have a dramatic impact on the profitability of this plant. This plant is currently only marginally profitable. The problem with Julia Gillard’s carbon tax is that it will badly damage the profitability of this plant, it will threaten its long term viability and obviously it will damage the job prospects of the nearly 4,000 people who are directly or indirectly dependent upon this plant.
As the Australian Workers Union rightly pointed out a week or so back, Whyalla will be wiped off the map by Julia Gillard’s carbon tax. Whyalla risks becoming a ghost town, an economic wasteland, if this carbon tax goes ahead and that’s true not just of Whyalla, it’s also true of Port Pirie, it’s true of Gladstone, it’s true of communities in the Hunter Valley and the Illawarra in New South Wales, it’s true of Kwinana in Western Australia, it’s true of the La Trobe Valley, Portland, places like that in Victoria. There’s not a state and there’s hardly a region in this country that wouldn’t have major communities devastated by a carbon tax if this goes ahead and I challenge the other unions involved in manufacturing to speak up on behalf of their members, to stop making excuses for a bad government and to stand up for the jobs of their members because the truth about the carbon tax is that it will not clean up the environment but it will certainly clean out your wallet and it will wipe out jobs big time, particularly in Australia’s manufacturing industry.
Another point to make is that this is today the one year anniversary of Kevin Rudd dumping his version of a carbon tax. Back in those days, the current Prime Minister was urging Kevin Rudd to dump the tax that she now says is necessary to save the planet and this is the problem. When it comes to this subject, you just can’t trust the Prime Minister. Kevin Rudd couldn’t trust her a year ago and the Australian people can’t trust her now.
The final point I want to make is that there is a better way. This whole debate is not about climate change. It’s about the best way of dealing with it. The Coalition has a strong and effective policy to deal with climate change. We will spend about a billion dollars a year from savings in the budget; we’ll get more trees, better soil and smarter technology. That’s the intelligent way of dealing with climate change. The dumb way is to impose a great big new tax on jobs, a great big tax on every Australians standard of living.
I might ask Simon if he’d like to say a few words.
Thanks, Tony, and I’d really like to thank Tony for taking the time to come here today, to come to Whyalla, to talk to real workers here at OneSteel, talk to the business leaders in the Whyalla community and to hear from the community their concerns about this carbon tax. It’s not just jobs on the line in this case, it is livelihoods, it is the future of cities like Whyalla, like Port Pirie and Port Augusta in South Australia and many others that Tony has mentioned right around Australia. I’d like to also offer a challenge. The challenge is to Julia Gillard. Come to Whyalla, come here to OneSteel and front the workers in this plant. Front them and discuss the impact of the carbon tax because they all understand that it’s their jobs, their livelihoods and the future of their community that is on the line. They understand that there is a better way to deal with climate change and that this carbon tax will be job destroying and city destroying in communities like this.
So thank you, Tony, for doing what Julia Gillard has not done. The challenge is there to the Prime Minister to follow suit.
Thanks Simon, Okay…
Thanks Simon, Okay…