Legislative Council: Tuesday, May 02, 2023


Question Time

Whyalla Steelworks

The Hon. F. PANGALLO (15:16): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Leader of the Government for the Premier and the Treasurer about the Whyalla Steelworks.

Leave granted.

The Hon. F. PANGALLO: With his usual fanfare, support of obedient media outlets and a bevy of VIPs in tow, including the Premier, federal industry minister Ed Husic and energy minister the Hon. Tom Koutsantonis, the current owner of the Whyalla Steelworks, Sanjeev Gupta, last month orchestrated yet another event in the town where he made another re-announcement of an old 2020 promise that he would spend $500 million on an electric arc furnace and upgrade the still weary-looking plant to produce green steel.

This is the same debt-laden saviour who in 2017 promised he would spend $1 billion to make the old lamp look like new. No sign of that, although reports say the company has been making shiploads of millions, exporting iron ore to ravenous China. Mr Gupta, who now resides in Dubai while investigations into his murky business affairs carry on in Britain, Scotland and other parts of the EU, has just one proviso: that the Malinauskas government gives him the $50 million support package Labor promised way back then—first.

The only journalist to raise eyebrows again, I might add, was the Financial Review'sJoe Aston, who penned a colourful analysis of Mr Gupta's unfulfilled promises and global woes and failures in his 'Rear Window' column, in which he labels Mr Gupta as 'that international steel shyster'. I seek leave to table that column, published on 10 April, and also The Advertiser of 5 April.

The PRESIDENT: Is leave granted? The Hon. Mr Pangallo, the Clerk is advising me it's already a public document so there is really no need to table it within the chamber. I have asked if leave—

The Hon. F. PANGALLO: I beg to differ here with the Clerk because these are paywalled and people aren't able to access them. These documents get paywalled.

The PRESIDENT: Sorry, they get—

The Hon. F. PANGALLO: They don't become public unless people pay for them.

The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Mr Pangallo, I will allow you to table it, but—

The Hon. F. PANGALLO: Thank you, sir. My questions to the—

The PRESIDENT: —I want members to be careful with regard to what they are looking to table in this place.

The Hon. F. PANGALLO: It's published in the paper, Mr President. My question to the Premier and the Treasurer is: do they intend handing over the $50 million based on a still empty promise and, if not, what ironclad conditions are they seeking from Mr Gupta and why did the Premier and others travel to Whyalla at taxpayers' expense when there was nothing new to hear or see or, as Mr Aston puts it, how many times will they be led down the garden path to nowhere by a man in a three-piece suit, not to be confused with me?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:20): I thank the honourable member for his question and I will refer that to a minister in another place to bring back a reply. I note that the member has directed it to the Premier and Treasurer. It might also be that there is a role for the Minister for Energy to play in responding to that answer, but I will refer that to colleagues in another place and bring back the member a reply.