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10 March 2021

South Australian independent Senator Rex Patrick today called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to reaffirm the Federal Government’s support for the Whyalla steelworks and Australian domestic steel production. 

“At a time when a cloud of financial uncertainty hangs over Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance, it’s essential that the Australian Government reaffirm the critical national importance of domestic steel production and the vital contribution the Whyalla steelworks makes to the city of Whyalla and South Australia,” Senator Patrick said. 

“Australian steel production is an essential component of our industrial and manufacturing base. It is key part of national infrastructure projects such as the Inland Rail project, to shipbuilding and to Australia’s national security. If the Whyalla steelworks were forced by external financial factors to close, it would be a grave blow to Australia’s national self-reliance and resilience.”

“When the steelwork’s previous owner Arrium went into administration in 2016, my predecessor Senator Nick Xenophon was able to enlist the active engagement of then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in efforts to support the Whyalla steelworks.” 

“Prime Minister Morrison must now also involve himself in the future of Whyalla and make clear his Government’s preparedness to do whatever it may take to ensure that the steelworks continues as a vital part of Australia’s manufacturing future.” 

“In the first instance the Prime Minister needs to speak directly to Mr Gupta and obtain a clear statement of GFG Alliance’s ‘challenging’ financial position, especially as it potentially impacts on the future of the Whyalla steelworks and the hundreds of businesses that provide supplies and services to the business.”

“Hopefully Mr Gupta will be able to provide the Prime Minster and the Australian public with credible assurances that GFG will be able to weather the storm from the collapse of their financier backer, Greensill Capital.”  

“In any case the Prime Minister must publicly commit his Government to ensure that the Whyalla steelworks is safe and move without delay to put in place contingency plans to deal with the fallout in the event that GFG Alliance collapses.”