Member for Shellharbour Anna Watson has today released a letter she has received from the Premier Mike Baird MP directly contradicting public statements by the Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra and South Coast Gareth Ward that the finalisation of an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) between BlueScope Steel and Combined Steel Unions is delaying the response of the State Government to the region’s steel crisis.

Ms Watson said that the Premier’s letter does not mention at all Mr Ward’s public concerns about the EBA.

“There is not a single word in the Premier’s letter claiming, as Mr Ward has over the last 24 hours, that the State Government requires the finalisation of the EBA.

“As I understand it, the EBA has been placed on hold by agreement between BlueScope Steel and the Combined Steel Unions.

“Mr Ward is simply factually wrong to continue to make public statements trying to link the finalisation of the EBA with the State Government delivering on the request by BlueScope Steel to deliver payroll tax concessions which are vital the $200 million annual cost savings task”, she said.

Ms Watson also said the Premier’s letter further contradicts Mr Ward’s public statements that the State Government cannot announce an assistance package because it was uncertain that the company would continue to make steel.

The Premier’s letter to Ms Watson makes this central point:

As you are aware, the company has publicly advised that no decision has been made to cease steel making in the Illawarra. (Emphasis added).

“It is very clear over the last 24 hours that the State Government’s response to the steel crisis in the Illawarra is in complete disarray.

“The Minister for Industry Anthony Roberts and Gareth Ward are simply making stuff up as they go along”, she said.

See: Premier’s letter to Ms Watson, dated 17 September 2015.

24 September 2015