Electrolux D-day

ELECTROLUX workers will know today if their jobs are safe, with the company’s head office in Stockholm understood to have made a decision about the plant’s future at a board meeting last night, despite calls for $41 million from the federal government remaining unanswered.

An announcement is expected at 4pm.

The company’s corporate communications manager Craig McCarthy said the federal industry and innovation department had acknowledged Electrolux’s business case had been received after it was sent last Wednesday.

But with Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane asking the company’s board to delay a verdict until December to give the government more time to consider the $41 million bailout, if a decision was made last night it would be without any assurances from the federal government.

Mr McCarthy said “only time will tell” if the potential bailout would have been enough to sway the board’s decision.

“[But] the fact that we’ve continued discussions with the government would suggest it was critical,” he said.

“The company would acknowledge the new Abbott government hasn’t had a lot of time to decide and Minister Macfarlane hasn’t had a lot of time in the job, but as he said he was the minister in the Howard government so it’s not as if he doesn’t understand the portfolio.”

Mr McCarthy said he was uncertain if the board had considered Mr Macfarlane’s request to delay the decision.

In a statement, Mr Macfarlane said he would not reveal specific details of private meetings with companies, but said a “methodical and measured approach” to addressing the issues the Australian manufacturing industry was facing was needed.

A spokesperson for Mr Macfarlane was unable to say if Electrolux’s submission had been received, but said any submission would need six to eight weeks to assess, meaning a decision on the $41 million bail out would not be possible until at least December.

Mr McCarthy praised the efforts of member for Calare John Cobb, member for Orange Andrew Gee and Orange City Council for helping Electrolux with pledges of grants or facilitating discussions.

He said Mr Gee had been quite influential in the state government’s pledge of payroll tax concessions for the plant, understood to be worth $3 million.

“We acknowledge the fact that all these people at all levels of government have endeavoured to present the case for the Orange plant continuing,” he said.

COLD COMFORT: The Electrolux board was meeting last night, probably to decide the future of the Orange factory.

COLD COMFORT: The Electrolux board was meeting last night, probably to decide the future of the Orange factory.

“Obviously the plant manager Mark O’Kane also worked relentlessly lobbying the company internally.”


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