Labor leader fears job losses will rock confidence in region's future

STATE Opposition Leader John Robertson fears prospective residents could turn away from Bathurst and Orange after a string of job losses.

Speaking at the Central West Jobs Summit on Tuesday in Bathurst, Mr Robertson made specific mention of the Evocities program, which aims to attract unhappy Sydneysiders to regional areas. 

“This is an Evocity. The Evocities website talks of all the job opportunities,” he said.

“My worry is that shockwaves sent through the central west with job cuts at Simplot, EDI and Electrolux will rock people’s confidence in the area.”

Tuesday’s summit, hosted by Unions NSW and held at the Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre, followed a jobs summit held in Orange last week. 

During the panel discussion, Mr Robertson focused on the role government could play in creating more jobs. 

The NSW Labor leader said he was disappointed the O’Farrell government was cutting funding from education and, in particular, TAFE  which, he said, was the key to developing skills within the region and attracting business. 

“Without a properly funded TAFE, people miss out on opportunities,” Mr Robertson said. “Historically, TAFE has been at the forefront of training for individuals.”


He also said the government needed to have more discussion with small businesses, which employ around 80 per cent of the workforce.

“We need to go out and talk with small businesses and find out what they want,” he said.

Mr Robertson said despite the recent job cuts, manufacturing would continue to be a part of the central west. 

“There are going to be opportunities for manufacturing ... there is a skill set that is here,” he said.

“Government can be talking to people about opportunities that exist overseas, not telling people to get into a particular area, but providing them with the information so they can make informed decisions about their future investment. None of that is going on and, as a result, we are seeing jobs disappear.”

Labor spokesman for  resources and primary industries Steve Whan said Asia would provide future job opportunities.

Addressing the summit later, federal member for Calare John Cobb reinforced the need for his proposed dam at Needles Gap near  Canowindra to create jobs.

He said the 90,000 megalitre dam on the Belubula River would provide a much-needed confidence boost.

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