Government Whip in the Legislative Council

Liberal Member in the Parliament of South Australia




Whyalla Steel Works (Environmental Authorisation) Amendment Bill

Thursday 15 October, 2015

I rise to support the bill, as I did 10 years ago. Given that I have what can only be described as a reasonably consistent and solid background, having been born and bred in Whyalla and spent 40 years there, I think I am reasonably well placed to give a bit of a commentary and talk about the feelings of most of the community that I came into contact with. I have managed to find an email which was a submission to the select committee on the Whyalla Steel Works (Environmental Authorisation) Amendment Bill. This email was from one Ted Kittel.

The Hon. Mr Parnell interjects and says, 'My old mate.' No, he is not. Can I just put this on the record; I will read it to you:

Dear Sean,

I refer to recent articles and responses in the Whyalla News and The Advertiser, and on Southern Cross TV regarding the renewal of the 10 year Indenture. My position is as follows It is true that the 2005 Indenture caused the WRDAG Inc. litigation to be null and void because the Indenture changed the law. However, on behalf of WRDAG I continue to negotiate with OneSteel with the express desire to find a middle ground. The negotiations over a period of time resulted in a win/win position for both Parties and launched the beginning of a new partnership between WRDAG and OneSteel/Arrium. This partnership has flourished and is now strong and progressive. I have observed throughout the 2005-2015 Indenture period that OneSteel/Arrium has conducted its operations in Whyalla in a most environmentally responsible way. OneSteel/Arrium has shown good faith by engaging with community representatives (myself included) on all issues which relate to environmental impacts, and I have no doubt this will continue for the duration of the 2015-2025 Indenture. I will continue to further expand the good relationship I have with the Company by recognising and promoting the good environmental outcomes already enjoyed by the affected community as a result of the goodwill, and the good work we have done together. I therefore distance myself from any negative media statements about this issue because I am confident that the Company will continue its responsible environmental practices during the life of the new Indenture. Please forward this email to the relevant CEO/Managers.

Yours sincerely Ted Kittel

Former Chair WRDAG Inc.

The reason I am quite keen to put those remarks on the record is that I want to indulge the council and inform it of probably the most offensive email I have had in my time as a member of parliament. Sir, as you may be aware, I was a strong supporter of the last indenture—quite proudly so—knowing that the vast majority of the community in Whyalla wanted certainty and they wanted that industry to continue to flourish and provide employment and opportunities for the people of Whyalla.

Mr Kittel, and I did not keep the email, basically went along these lines: you've sold out your city, you should be ashamed of yourself and that my father, who had recently passed, would turn in his grave with regard to my behaviour. I do not think I ever responded to that email because I could never trust myself to provide a response that was remotely calm or reasonable. But here we are and I am about to make my speech, but I just wanted to put that on the record that one Ted Kittel, who thought I was the worst thing since sliced bread, dared to say that my father, who was never a fan of Ted Kittel, would be ashamed of me and now is talking about how everything has actually worked out pretty well. You would be surprised, Mr President, that I have not had an email from one Ted Kittel apologising at any particular point, nor do I want one at any stage.

I speak in strong support of this bill. This bill is an extension to the special exemptions from certain environmental standards which, when applied to the steelworks, were unreasonable and had the potential to affect efficiency and productivity at the works. Of course, as many in this place would remember, these exemptions were first applied 10 years ago, and I made a contribution on the amendment bill back then.

Similarly to my view in 2005, I believe these exemptions should remain in place. The steelworks are the economic lifeblood of the Whyalla community and everything within the government's power should be done to ensure that it remains viable. Contrary to the argument of the Hon. Mark Parnell, OneSteel and Arrium have proven to be decent corporate citizens by working with the community to ensure that the red dust problem has been well and truly alleviated, and I am very proud of that outcome.

As mentioned during the 2005 debate, Project Magnet was proposed by OneSteel as a way to significantly reduce, if not resolve, the problem of red dust by shifting to magnetite ore, crushing it at the mine site and transporting it to the process plant in a slurry form via pipeline. Fast forward to 2015, we can confidently say that Project Magnet has been a success. This was despite the protests of those on the WRDAG group and others who were against the exemptions and were distrustful of the intentions of OneSteel/Arrium.

Given the time of the day, I am not going to continue at great length with this but I am extremely keen to support this particular bill. I put on the record a little bit of my distasteful history with regard to a certain person but I feel that I have been vindicated and, at a time when Whyalla desperately needs certainty, the people of Whyalla want OneSteel/Arrium to continue. I think that this parliament and this government, along with strong opposition support, wish them every possible success. 

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