The NSW Liberal-National government has resorted to a filibuster to prevent a vote on the Steel Industry Protection Bill in the Legislative Council today in a transparent attempt to avoid scrutiny in the upcoming federal election.
Multiple Liberal MPs used their combined speech times to talk out the Greens bill to require public infrastructure to use local steel. With the support of the Greens, the ALP, Shooters and Fishers, and Christian Democrats the bill has the support needed to pass through the Upper House to progress to the Lower House.
Greens MP David Shoebridge said:
“The Coalition are politically isolated in their opposition to using local steel in local infrastructure and are resorting to classroom tactics to stop the Greens bill from coming to a vote today.
“The Steel Industry Protection bill will pass the NSW Upper House, with or without the support of the Coalition. It just will not pass today because of the Coalition’s petty politicking.
“The Baird government’s delaying tactics reek of a government running scared.
“At some point Gareth Ward and Mike Baird will have to explain to their constituents in the Illawarra why they oppose this sensible policy that will save jobs and secure the future of the steel industry.
“The Greens, the Shooters and Fishers, the Christian Democrats and the Labor party have put their politics to one side and united to save the steel industry in the Illawarra.
“Today’s antics show that the NSW Coalition is more interested in protecting the electoral interests of their federal counterparts than the jobs of 4,500 people in the Illawarra.
“The Baird government’s arguments against a government steel procurement policy were ill-informed, contradictory and plain ridiculous.
“In an insult to steel workers one Liberal MP even said that he supported the dumping of steel into the Australian market.
“The United States and Canada both have in place policies that favour local steel for use in public infrastructure projects. If they can implement such policies, so can Australia.
“The Coalition’s opposition to steel procurement purely ideological. They have little regard for the future of the workers at the Bluescope plant or sustainability of the economy in the Illawarra.
“One-off bail outs and government loans for Bluescope and Arrium will fail to deliver any security for the future of these plants and the thousands of workers they employ.
“Requiring public projects at a state and federal level to use locally made steel is the most cost-effective and efficient way to secure the viability of the industry in Australia.
“NSW is leading the way in putting forward cost effective, long term solutions to prevent the collapse of the industry across the country. Governments around the country should sit up and take note,” Mr Shoebridge said.