Protest against steel contract condemned

Gareth Ward.

NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Illawarra Gareth Ward has moved a Notice of Motion in Parliament this week condemning a protest against a local steel business that recently signed a contract with an Israeli defence company.

Members of Students for Palestine and the Greens party demonstrated outside the headquarters of Bisalloy last month over its $900,000 deal to supply around 200 tonnes of steel to Rafael Defence Systems.

According to one speaker, the steel would aid Israel in its “war crimes”. Meanwhile Wollongong Greens Councillor Mithra Cox reportedly told the crowd, “We want a steel industry that we can be proud of. We want our steel to be used for building homes, trains, bridges and schools – not for killing people.

“A generation ago, Wollongong workers refused to let our steel be sent to Japan for their war effort. Let’s uphold this fine tradition and stand against the military oppression of the Palestinian people.”

A Bisalloy spokeswoman, however, insisted that the steel supplied is “used in applications that provide protection for people, property and valuables. Contrary to recent comments Bisalloy Steels does not manufacture steel products for the use in bullets, missiles or similar weapons.”

In his notice of motion, Ward, the Member for Kiama, “notes that Bisalloy are producing protective steel to provide protection to the Israel Defence Force from bombs, bullets and terrorist combatants”.

The motion also states that he “opposes racist campaigns such as the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel and Israeli businesses; and condemns racism in all its forms”.

Lamenting that “The Greens are no longer about sensible environmental policies and practical conservationism,” Ward said, “This steel is being used for protection – not provocation. It distresses me that anyone would protest against steel used to protect allied armed forces.”

Welcoming the notice of motion, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff said, “Mr Ward has a long history of standing on principle, and he has done so once again in condemning the Greens’ response on this issue.”