ELECTROLUX’S future in Orange could be decided in the next two weeks yet the federal government wants to know more before committing to any bailout package.
Minister for Industry Ian MacFarlane toured Electrolux yesterday and planned to visit the struggling Simplot factory in Bathurst on the invitation of member for Calare John Cobb.
Yet he refused to commit to any sort of bailout package for the Orange plant until he had a better idea of what the factory’s problems were.
“I just want to make sure I know what I am talking about in cabinet,” he said.
“I want to make sure I know what I am talking about when people say we need this industry in Orange.”
He said if the government chose to give Electrolux financial assistance he would have to commission a productivity report and the government had not thought about that yet.
The clock is ticking as the decision on the Swedish-owned company’s future in Orange could be made by the end of the month.
The Orange plant has asked the federal industry and innovation department for $41 million to help stave off a challenge from its fellow refrigeration factory in Thailand, with both competing for a $45 million investment from head office to build the company’s new range of products.
The investment study into the Orange factory’s viability is completed and the Electrolux board is due to meet on October 24 to discuss the recommendation.
The Central Western Daily does not know what the recommendation is but if the board does not make a decision on October 24, it will have to be made at the board’s next meeting on December 23.
Mr MacFarlane said he was in the city yesterday afternoon to see how the factory worked and to meet with senior staff to find out what the issues are and why the company is not as productive as its rivals.
He blamed the carbon tax and the high Australian dollar for the Orange plant’s problems.
“I am prepared to sit down and talk with the company... see if there is something we can do but as I say it won’t be a knee-jerk reaction,” he said.
“I won’t announce something tomorrow or the next day ... I will have to talk to the treasurer Joe Hockey.”
“I won’t be pressured into this.”
Orange City Council recently pledged $1.1 million over 10 years to Electrolux and so far the state government has given the plant $40,000 to fund a master plan to improve productivity.
The company is still waiting to find out if the state government will waive $3 million in payroll tax. Member for Orange Andrew Gee recently announced a bailout but could not say what it was.
The plant will receive $4.7 million in funds allocated by the former federal government.