Focus on Electrolux: Cobb

MEMBER for Calare John Cobb has urged all tiers of government to keep up efforts to help the central west recover from its own pending jobs crisis, as Holden’s closure in Adelaide and Melbourne continues to dominate headlines and politics.

The central west will lose 544 jobs when Electrolux closes its Orange plant, 110 when Simplot downsizes its Bathurst plant and 95 when Downer EDI closes in Bathurst.

Lithgow has also been hit with more than 90 job losses as coal mining in the area scales down.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised a financial support package the same day Holden announced its closure and the 2900 direct job losses - 1600 in Adelaide and 1300 in Melbourne.

But Mr Cobb said Holden’s closure did not change the situation for the closures and scaling back of operations Lithgow, Bathurst and Orange face.

“As far as the various levels of government response to our local regional situation, it had better not change,” he said. 

“They are, very much, still an issue of enormous importance for the region and for me and I will continue to work with my state, local and federal colleagues on the matter.”

The Central West Community Union Alliance’s Joe Maric said it was easy for the government to ignore the plight of regional cities like Orange.

“For some reason we’re not seen in the same light ... but the reality is per capita it will be at least exactly the same if not worse here,” he said.

“If you lose a lot of jobs in Adelaide another company comes along and picks up the slack ... but the Orange economy can’t afford to have 500 to 600 people move out of the area.”

But Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) state secretary Russ Collison said the Holden closure was not a major setback for the central west’s cause and would put unions in a position where they could argue vigorously with the government to put more effort into retaining the entire manufacturing industry in Australia.

For Electrolux, he hopes the government can make it attractive for another major employer to take on the plant.

He rejected suggestions Australian workers were less productive than their foreign counterparts and said the quality of Australian-made products was far better.

“Our people in those areas are extremely efficient,” he said.

“You can only work as hard and as fast the technology and machinery allows you to.”

Mr Cobb said there was no silver bullet to solve the issues facing manufacturing in Australia or in Calare, but Minister for Industry Ian Macfarlane would visit the area again in the New Year to focus on the region.

He said he was saddened and disappointed about the Holden closure especially as it would be only one year after the Electrolux closure. 

He blamed the decision on the high-cost manufacturing environment in Australia, which he said was not helped by the former Labor government’s carbon price.

clare.colley@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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