Serious of course, but the REAL change happened during the 1980s when employment in Illawarra steel-making dropped from 23,000 to 15,000, down to 3,100 + contractors in July 2011.
Our local steel industry commenced in 1927 with Charles Hoskins entering into an agreement with the state government to build a steelworks at Port Kembla, thereby commencing a long history of steel production that still continues to this day. Operations began in 1930 with one blast furnace of 800 tons capacity. In 1936, BHP acquired Australian Iron and Steel Limited and production at Port Kembla increased rapidly. The steel industry was a catalyst for growth for many decades, and laid the foundations for the city’s economy, lifestyle and culture.
Wollongong is proud of its industrial roots, and is still known and acknowledged as one of Australia’s leading industrial centres. While steel and other manufacturing industries remain an essential part of the local economy, the city has long recognised the need to diversify its economic base. Construction of the spectacular Sea Cliff Bridge to the north has given even more focus to the burgeoning tourism industry, and information technology, hospitality, health services and telecommunications continue to grow as key industries of the region…
… Without stronger and more effective government control, Australia will continue travelling at breakneck speed towards the bottom of the quarry, a journey that will wreak havoc on the non-resource sector and potentially leave many people far worse off. As the resource boom accelerates, it will keep the dollar sky-high and force up the cost of doing business for everyone else. Industries such as tourism and education – industries that, unlike mining, involve many jobs – will fade away as our currency soars even higher, propelled by speculative investment as the Australian dollar becomes Asia’s new hard currency. We will be left high and dry when commodity prices suddenly collapse, as they did with the GFC in 2008 or worse, when the resources start to run out.
Our state and federal politicians have become so bedazzled by the prospect of even greater mineral riches that they are eagerly encouraging a resources rush while neglecting long-term ecological and financial consequences.
Increasingly, we see weak and inept governments up against muscular multinationals…