A FEW months may have made the difference to Orange missing out on millions of dollars in stimulus money in the wake of the Electrolux factory closure, unlike two other regions that suffered job losses of a similar scale.
After Orange mayor John Davis accused the federal government of not doing enough, the Central Western Daily approached Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne for comment on why Geelong secured $15 million from the federal government when Ford announced the closure of its factories, affecting 1200 jobs, and the Illawarra secured $20 million in federal money when BlueScope Steel closed a blast furnace, cutting 800 jobs.
The Geelong and Illawarra innovation and investment funds were open to companies creating jobs, with applicants receiving grants in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, up to $5 million, and were awarded under the previous Gillard Labor government before it lost power to Tony Abbott’s Coalition in September 2013.
By comparison, a fund established between the state government and Orange City Council was only able to offer $5000 grants, despite Electrolux, EDI Downer and Simplot contributing to about 900 job losses across Orange and Bathurst.
With the Electrolux announcement made a month after the Coalition took power, a spokesman for Mr Pyne said the government established a position of not providing companies in difficulties with financial assistance or guarantees.
“This approach is consistent with the Commonwealth’s handling of other requests for the provision of discretionary grants or support, for example SPC Ardmona and Qantas,” the spokesman said.
The spokesman said the closure was disappointing, however the Commonwealth Government considered the Orange region was economically diversified and not largely dependent on one sector or a single employer, and noted in February this year, the Orange region’s unemployment rate was 4.1 per cent, compared to the national rate of 5.8 per cent.
“In that context, Electrolux, with the support of the Department of Employment, recently facilitated a jobs fair for its employees,” the spokesman said.