Topics: Arrium; automotive industry
Greg Hunt, thanks for your time. You’re about to go overseas hunting for a buyer for Arrium. Tell me what the prospects are.
Look, I am quietly confident. It’s obviously in the hands of the administrators, so it’s a sale by a private enterprise to a private enterprise.
But we’re helping, along with the South Australian Government, we’re working very constructively with the South Australian Government and I also have to say the unions.
This is too important for it to be anything other than a full national task. So my informed judgment is that there is interest.
It’s in the deal room, which means it’s in the commercial room that the administrators will run, but we’re working with them on some overseas prospects.
And we’re working with the South Australian Government and the unions in doing all we can to provide options and encouragement and incentives.
Alright. Where are you going?
So I’ve got two tasks on this trip. One is to work on the automotive industry. So visiting the headquarters in Detroit and near Chicago of Ford and GM, and also Toyota.
And that’s about keeping component makers in Australia as part of the global supply chain. The aftermarket, as part of global processes, and also making sure that we keep the design and R and D studios in Australia.
The second task, and you can tell we’re at the airport, is to work on Arrium, and that’s in Korea.
We’re meeting with Posco Steel, and Posco is one of the international suitors that’s been made public.
So we’re working with them, and the Government at this stage is offering assistance in the form of the Export Finance Insurance Corporation loans or the Clean Energy Finance Corporation loans.
I think it’s very important that Arrium has a stable, reliable source of power.
And it could help the broader grid in the area that would assist with Whyalla, Port Augusta, Port Pirie, going all the way through and up to Roxby, then that’s the best way to supporting South Australia’s steel and automotive industries.
I was going to ask you about the cost of power and that issue, and we see that The Guardian have run an article which quotes a French news source that Hazelwood may well be shut sooner rather than later in Victoria, and that puts of course other pressure on South Australia’s regular supply.
So the ability to get power not only reliably but at a reasonable price is going to be a big issue, isn’t it?
Well, this is a very important issue.
I know the South Australian Government, whilst we agree absolutely on Arrium, we have disagreements with the fact that there has been insufficient focus on providing a reliable base load for the South Australian grid at a reasonable price.
That’s why any proposal for Arrium, which might bring with it something such as a combined cycle gas support which could go into the grid, which would provide electricity for Whyalla, which would also provide electricity for the South Australian grid, particularly up to and past Port Augusta, would be an extremely important area, and that’s why we’ve made the Clean Energy Finance Corporation available to assist.
Greg, if you get any really good news or breakthroughs, would you be kind enough to call us and we’ll talk to you? Because I think if we can get some good news, that would be fantastic.
Yeah, look, I know this has been an incredibly hard time for the workers and the families in Whyalla, for all of those who aren’t involved with the steel plant, because it’s such a fundamental part of the town.
I’ve got to say that the PM, the Treasurer, myself, not just completely engage, we talk regularly about practical actions. I’ll speak with the administrators, and then Rowan Ramsay every single day is engaging this.
So we’ll keep you informed, as we’re doing now, but it’s part of our job to fight for the jobs of Australian workers, and particularly those in areas such as Whyalla.
That’s Greg Hunt, the Industry Minister, who will now be up in the air thousands of feet, seeing what he can do to find or facilitate a buyer for Arrium.