Who's keen to mind city's business? Opportunity knocks on jobs

AT least six businesses are knocking on Orange City Council’s door keen to start in Orange and agribusiness could be the industry set to boom, according to general manager Garry Styles.

While agribusiness may “not be the flavour of the month”, Mr Styles said it would allow some redundant Electrolux workers to transition into process work to feed China’s growing population.

“We’ve got two fairly good [agribusinesses] making it through the gate,” he said.

It was a view shared by fellow Central West Jobs Summit speaker, Charles Sturt University economics professor John Hicks, who said China’s current growth rate of 8 to 10 per cent could continue for 50 years and benefit all Australian industries.

“China is desperate for high class food,” he said.

“We need to get into China and identify what products they want and how they want them delivered.

“It’s only when you’ve got industry that other areas want to purchase that you have strong growth.”

Mr Styles said the council would provide funding and support for new ventures coming to Orange.

While the other tiers of government we’re in a “very difficult position” with other job losses pending, he hoped they would also come onboard.

Council has committed $1.1 million “seed funding” to its jobs strategy program, but Mr Styles said similar recovery efforts for redundant workers from Holden and Electrolux’s Adelaide plant in 2006 had shown it to be “a very difficult landscape”.

Mr Styles was positive about the focus on training of Electrolux staff as part of the first response to the pending jobs crisis.

But he said there needed to be a second tier with a focus on bringing industry to the city and building on the current cluster areas for jobs including healthcare, aged care, public administration, education and training, retail, mining, professional consultation and science.

Professor Hicks said regional areas across the country were being stung with job losses in manufacturing and farming, but Orange was “ahead of the curve”.

He said Orange should continue its “multifaceted response” to recover from the jobs crisis and pursue, but not rely, on initiatives such as decentralisation and government assistance.

Mr Styles said council was continuing to invest in infrastructure such as key transport links and “high amenity things” to make the city attractive to professionals such as specialist doctors.

But hosed down suggestions council should take on more staff and tender for work in other council areas saying the margins for road work were low.

He said it was also difficult for  council to have a say on how much local labour was used for big projects, unless it was council’s own project.

“The [indoor] pool over here was a tough one,” he said.

“It was under funded so we took the cheapest price and ended up putting a tonne of our own resources in.”

Payroll tax small change

BUSINESSES that take on redundant Electrolux workers will be among those eligible for increased payroll tax breaks announced by the state government yesterday.

The scheme will give employers a $6000 payroll tax break if they hire workers from a company that has made 50 or more workers redundant in a regional area or 100 or more in a city - up on a current initiative that offers tax rebates of $5000.

Central West Community Union Alliance convener Joe Maric pushed for the $5000 rebate to be upped last month, but wanted the central west to be a pilot area before any increase was rolled out across the state.

He was pleased to hear the government had recognised payroll tax breaks needed to be increased, but said the extra $1000 was “way off the mark” and larger incentives were needed.

“They should be starting in the worst areas,” he said.

“I don’t believe it’s a good idea to put it straight across the state ... it’s not one size fits all.

“For someone that’s losing 100 workers, compared to us with 1200 [job losses] it’s a major difference especially with our population status.”

When announcing the rebate, Premier Barry O’Farrell said it was “particularly worrying” when retrenchments caused significant disruption to a region, or when those jobs were in a specialised field with limited re-employment opportunities.

But he said latest job figures showed NSW’s relative strength in testing economic times.

Member for Orange Andrew Gee has asked for a $4 million payroll tax break promised to Electrolux to be redirected to assist the redundant workers.

He did not return calls for comment yesterday.

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