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Whyalla: A Vibrant, Successful Community with Exciting Prospects for the Future

6 May 2021

It was a privilege for the Hon John Darley to present to the House, from the community of Whyalla, information on their successes, opportunities and strategies for the future.

Following John’s presentation in Parliament yesterday afternoon, very encouraging news was announced by GFG Alliance on refinancing which will secure the future of its Whyalla operations.

Even with this financing in place, John endorsed the need, identified by Whyalla, for strong support to continue from both State and Federal Governments. Successful partnership and support from Governments, with communities across the State, is essential for success in regional development.

“Whyalla’s future has been in the spotlight throughout 2021. Speculation regarding the finances of GFG has made global headlines. But Whyalla is an incredibly resilient community that has not been distracted from its focus on realising its exciting potentialities,” John said

“Despite GFG’s financial situation – caused by the collapse of a main financier, and not mismanagement of assets – GFG’s Whyalla operations are in the strongest position in years, an important aspect that has been missing from much of the recent speculation.

“Local GFG representatives regularly brief the Council, Chamber of Commerce, and other key stakeholders. Recent briefings have highlighted record rates of production; strong product demand; and a very positive attitude from employees despite the external speculation.

“The operations are now profitable. Only 12 months ago, there were significant losses year-on-year, so the local team has done an outstanding job turning things around.”

John Darley said the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted to the nation the critical importance of domestic manufacturing. He said this fact, combined with the very positive news on GFG’s operational successes, and now its securing of critical financing, gives the Whyalla community confidence in GFG’s future in Whyalla.

As well as GFG’s local success, John highlighted a number of major developments in Whyalla which add to the excitement around the city:

1. A brand-new, world-class jetty – supported by State funding– that is attracting record tourist numbers and global acclaim

2. A new $100 million State high school set for completion later this year

3. The Federally-funded $12.1million upgrade of the Airport, improving security and better positioning Whyalla to capitalise on fly-in / fly-out opportunities and the short 45-minute flight from Adelaide

4. The Cuttlefish Coast Sanctuary Tourism and Environmental Management Project, with $2.1 million in State funding, that will create a huge boost in regional tourism

5. Major construction projects of a new Aldi store and Electranet electricity infrastructure upgrade, totalling nearly $300 million

6. These above activities have created a rental market boom and rise in median house prices

Mayor Clare McLaughlin notes these exciting achievements have created a genuine optimism about Whyalla’s future. However, it remains critical that Whyalla continues to receive extensive support from State and Federal Governments to complement and diversify the existing economy, easing the ongoing reliance on the steel industry.

Key priorities include:

1. Whyalla as a Hydrogen Hub – with the city ideally-placed to deliver and cater for world-class hydrogen production

2. GFG’s Green Steel transformation vision

3. Promotion of industry utilising the Whyalla Port for export opportunities

4. State, Whyalla City Council and local stakeholder collaboration on potential uses of the future surplus State Government high school sites, ensuring maximum benefits for the community and the state. The collaboration needs to take into account the City’s Foreshore Master Plan and the need to create temporary workers’ accommodation to address the current housing shortage.

5. Maximising education opportunities from UniSA and TAFE Whyalla campuses

6. Attraction and retention of skilled workers and their families through Upper Spencer Gulf’s “Housing” and “Image and Liveability” Strategies.

7. Identifying and prioritising Defence-related opportunities from the adjacent Cultana Defence base.

Mayor Clare McLaughlin indicates that Whyalla remains positive about its future, but much will depend on critical, ongoing State and Federal support, which John Darley is also keen to see prioritised.

“The State Government demonstrated confidence in the future of Whyalla through its significant investment in the new high school,” he said.

“It is now imperative Governments continue this level of support, ensuring these investments realise and foster a growing and diversified workforce and economy for Whyalla, the region, and South Australia for decades to come.”