A shot in the arm for steel
ELIGIBLE companies will be able to apply for $164 million in competitiveness assistance advances under the Australian Government's Steel Transformation Plan (STP).
The coalition had tried to block the plan.
Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr said the advance facility is an essential part of the Steel Transformation Plan to ensure the future of the Australian steel industry.
"The facility demonstrates that the Gillard Labor Government recognises the significant challenges facing the sector, including a high Australian dollar, continued weak domestic demand, higher raw material prices and excess supply in international steel markets," Senator Carr said.
"Opening the facility to applications today delivers on our commitment to the industry and Australian workers. We know Tony Abbott left his commitment to workers on the hook with the fluoro vest because the Coalition voted against the support in both houses of the Parliament."
The Steel Transformation Plan comes into effect following Royal Assent to the Clean Energy Bills and the Steel Transformation Plan Bill.
The Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Greg Combet commented: "The Government has worked closely with the steel industry in developing the $300 million Steel Transformation Plan, and this Plan has been welcomed by the industry. It will help the sector's transformation to a low-carbon future."
Under the competitiveness assistance advances, the Government has brought forward up to $164 million which will allow eligible participants to draw down advances of their future STP entitlements to help the industry become more competitive and sustainable.
When announcing the provision of competitiveness assistance advances, the Prime Minister advised that this facility will allow BlueScope Steel to bring forward into 2011-12 up to $100 million of the payments allocated to it under the STP.
"The Government will continue to work co-operatively with relevant stakeholders to finalise the legislative design of the self-assessment element of the STP," Senator Carr said.
"This initiative will help the Australian steel manufacturing industry position itself for a competitive future. The Government views a competitive steel industry as an important part of the Australian economy."