LOCAL, state and federal politicians met in Orange yesterday to start formulating a strategy to attract more investment to the area and vowed to fight for more job opportunities in the wake of the closure of Electrolux.
Member for Orange Andrew Gee, Orange City Council mayor John Davis and Federal Member for Calare John Cobb said today’s discussions were the first of many as they look at exploring all opportunities for more job creation.
Following the talks, Cr Davis said as well as council looking for new opportunities for regional development, a major challenge will be to ensure the future of current Electrolux workers.
“I have to congratulate management and workers at Electrolux who have made the plant viable for the last ten years and to be fair, over the last 50 years that factory has employed many Orange people,” Cr Davis said.
“But we are all united in the challenge which lays ahead of us and putting our political differences aside, we need to pool all our resources.”
Member for Orange Andrew Gee said Electrolux now has a moral obligation to support the workers who will be left without jobs, but said it is the job of Cr Davis, himself and Member for Calare John Cobb to “put their shoulder to the wheel” to work for the community.
“We can’t just wallow in despair and disappointment even though this announcement was a shock and we have to claw back as many jobs as possible,” he said.
Mr Gee said the diversity of Orange with an expanding university campus, the largest rural hospital in the southern hemisphere and the mining industry is a sign the local economy is healthy and diverse.
Mr Cobb said it is now the job of the three tiers of government to track down funding for training packages that can be utilised by Electrolux workers.
“Part of our job now is to look at what has happened in other parts of Australia,” he said.
He said he has already recognised opportunities for job creation for the region, but would not expand with any detail on what those opportunities might be.
Mr Cobb said the fact the plant won’t close for another two years gives much-needed time to explore opportunities and attract investment to the region.
The closure of the Orange plant announced last Friday is part of a plan by the Swedish company to cut 2000 jobs worldwide in an effort to increase profits after the company experienced a 28.9 per cent decrease in the last quarter.
Electrolux, who has indicated it is intending to move its Orange refrigerator operation offshore to Thailand, currently employs 60,200 people worldwide.