FEDERAL Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane, who visited the Electrolux plant two weeks ago to hear the case for a possible bailout package, said he was disappointed with the decision to close the Orange factory by 2016.
It is understood Mr Macfarlane had urged the company’s board to delay its decision on the plant's future until December to give the government more time to consider whether it would provide assistance.
He said it was a very difficult time for the factory's workers, whose commitment he had seen first-hand on his visit.
“The Coalition government believes there is a future for manufacturing in Australia,” he said.
"While the industry is dealing with challenges, the government is already acting to address some of the key issues, including energy costs, by releasing legislation to repeal the carbon tax.
“The government will continue to consult with industry representatives in a methodical way to work on a sustainable, long-term future for the sector in Australia.”
Member for Orange Andrew Gee said he was bitterly disappointed with Electrolux’s decision to produce its Australian fridges in Thailand.
“This is one of the saddest and darkest days in Orange’s history,’’ he said.
“It comes down to the fact that our market here is small and Electrolux can make greater profits in Thailand, where labour is $2.50 per hour compared to $25 to $30 in Australia.
‘‘Electrolux is a foreign company and it has no particular allegiance to Australia. It’s all about money.
“The Australian team at Electrolux did absolutely everything it could but this was a decision made in Europe. The board should rethink this flawed decision.”
Mr Gee said that the NSW government had offered Electrolux payroll tax relief and had funded an engineering and productivity plan for the plant’s future, assistance worth $4 million.