Electrolux: politicians' pie-in-the-sky solutions

WITH federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane suggesting redundant Electrolux workers should line up at Centrelink and the state government trying to train them for jobs that don’t yet exist, both tiers of government are offering “pie-in-the-sky” solutions for Orange’s pending jobs crisis, according to union representatives.

The Central West Community Union Alliance’s Joe Maric said he was horrified by Mr Macfarlane’s “insensitive” and “ludicrous” comments.

“He is saying we don’t want to know about you, go to Centrelink,” Mr Maric said.

“The whole basis of government is to avoid that happening ... all these people know is working and they want to keep working.”

Mr Maric said the federal government had no problems coming up with funds to pull large cities like Adelaide out of trouble when they faced factory closures, but seemed reluctant to help Orange.

“When these things happen you’ve got to move quick,” he said.

“We can see what’s going on, we don’t need a committee set up ... you’ve got to come up with a solution quick smart before the devastation comes.”

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Mr Maric said talk from the federal government of the “Band-Aid solution” of boosting existing businesses would mean cuts to workplace conditions like penalty rates.

“You’re trying to stretch out what you’ve got,” he said.

“Out of this situation with Electrolux it has the potential to see 500 to 600 families leave this town.

“There should be incentives for businesses to relocate to stimulate what’s here.”

With job losses reverberating across the region, Australian Workers Union organiser Alan Haynes said it was an Australia-wide problem as more goods were manufactured in China.

He does not believe a “big pot of money” from the federal government is the solution but said government assistance should be available when it was needed.

“The only way we could come up with a policy and plan is to talk about it and for all parties, federal or state, to work together with interested parties to come up with answers... not sling mud at each other,” he said.

“From what [Mr Macfarlane’s] said you could reasonably assume the federal government has wiped their hands of it.

“Orange should lead Australia in how to reinvent ourselves in the face of economic adversity.”

clare.colley@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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