Coalition sits on hands in safe seat

ORANGE and the central west is missing out on financial assistance from the federal and state governments to aid its recovery from factory closures because it falls in safe seats for the Coalition.

That’s the view of the Central West Union Alliance’s Joe Maric, who believes nothing will change for the area until voters change.

More than two months since Electrolux announced its closure in 2016, no tier of government has offered financial assistance to help the redudant workers find jobs.

By comparision, just a week after Holden announced the closure of its plants in Adelaide and Melbourne, and the loss of 2900 jobs, Prime Minister Tony Abbott anounced a $100 million jobs package - $60 million from the federal government with the rest to be topped up by the states and Holden.

The lack of action for the central west and the 544 jobs lost at Electrolux, 110 when Simplot in Bathurst downsizes and 95 when Downer EDI closes in Bathurst, angers Mr Maric.

“It looks like the Prime Minister has jumped in and done some pork barrelling,” he said.

“He’s given them millions of dollars and several months down the track we’ve got nothing.

“It’s gone dead quiet. One’s got to question, if this is how things are transpiring, the validity of having a safe seat.”

In last year’s election, member for Calare John Cobb held the seat of Calare, taking in Bathurst and Orange, with a swing of 5.23 per cent.

But the divisions of Wakefield in Adelaide and Melbourne Ports in Melbourne, where Holden’s plants were located, were both marginal seats narrowly held by Labor.

TWO MONTHS AFTER ELECTROLUX SHOCK, ELECTROLUX ANNOUNCES AMERICAN EXPANSION

Mr Maric said the impact for Orange would be proportionally just as big as the impact the Holden closure would have on the big cities.

“I believe the time has come for Orange people to look at their votes a lot closer,” he said.

“The regional towns that do the best are the ones in marginal seats.”

Member for Calare John Cobb was unavailable for comment, but following the Holden closure said the response from all tiers of government for the central west closures “had better not change” as attention was turned to Adelaide and Melbourne.

Member for Orange Andrew Gee hit back at Mr Maric’s claims saying the state government had been very proactive from day one.

“Besides wanting to political point-score, I don’t know why anyone would be suggesting that the NSW government hasn’t been helping and won’t continue to help in the aftermath of the Electrolux announcement,” he said.

Mr Gee said the state government had already begun assisting with the retraining of employees, but ways of “softening the blow” by promoting investment and economic growth were under consideration. 

“The form any assistance will take is in the hands of the Deputy Premier’s office and cabinet,” he said.

“I have requested that the [$4 million] payroll tax rebates previously offered to Electrolux be considered as part of a response.”

After earlier suggesting Orange City Council should expand its workload and take on staff from Electrolux, Mr Maric now believes tax cuts and other incentives for the club industry to expand and retrain the redundant workers for hospitality could be one answer.

But he believes real solutions will come out of the alliance’s jobs summits on March 4 in Orange and March 11 in Bathurst when representatives of local industries and the experts will come together.

clare.colley@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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