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‘Distressing day’ for Australia: Gillard

More money: Ford will tip in $10 million to help workers from its Broadmeadows and Geelong plants.

Governments pledge $39m support for Victorian regions affected by Ford pull-out

23 May 2013

THE federal and Victorian governments have pledged to contribute $39 million to support the northern Melbourne and Geelong regions affected by Ford’s decision to pull out of manufacturing in Australia in October 2016.

The decision will lead to 1200 jobs lost at Ford’s facilities at Broadmeadows and Geelong, with many more expected to fall within the supply chain.

In a statement, prime minister Julia Gillard described Ford’s announcement as a “distressing day for the company’s workforce, suppliers and the broader communities affected” and said the government would be “seeking a significant contribution to this effort from Ford Australia”.

She also promised to work with all key stakeholders, including unions, local communities and business organisations to develop programs designed to create job opportunities.

“The Australian and Victorian Governments are working together to do everything we can to look after the interests of the Ford workforce, the automotive supply chain and the communities of Geelong and Broadmeadows in Melbourne,” she said.

“We will be contributing almost $40 million to structural adjustment programs to support the economic development and diversification of the Geelong and northern Melbourne regions.

“The Australian government will contribute $30 million and the Victorian government $9 million (and) we will be seeking a significant contribution to this effort from Ford Australia.

“We are confident in the strength and resilience of the people in this industry and workforce.”

 center imageLeft: Australian prime minister Julia Gillard.

Ms Gillard said the federal government would also support the automotive supply chain by providing an additional $10 million for the Automotive New Markets Program, with the Victorian government contributing $2 million to support Victorian component suppliers.

While Ford Australia president and CEO Bob Graziano said the company had thrashed out a wide range of funding models before reaching its decision, Ms Gillard said: “Ford Australia did not approach the Australian or Victorian governments for any additional support to keep its Australian manufacturing operations going.”

She also urged Australian buyers not to walk away from Ford’s locally built vehicles as a result of today’s announcement.

“No one buying these vehicles should be concerned that this decision will affect future vehicle servicing or availability of spare parts,” she said.

Shadow industry spokesperson Sophie Mirabella described the news as a “grave development for manufacturing in Australia”.

“Today’s announcement will send a shock wave through the manufacturing sector. It is a day of sorrow for the workers at Ford and the workers at those manufacturing companies that supply components to Ford. Our thoughts are with them during this difficult time.

“There will be a loss of 1,200 jobs across two plants and this will potentially affect around 4000 jobs from the supply chain.

“The coalition gives its in-principle support to the economic diversity fund announced jointly by the federal and Victorian governments. We understand the importance of the automotive sector to manufacturing in this country.”

However, she accused the federal government of making “a challenging situation more difficult by adding to manufacturing costs in Australia, imposing the $460 million carbon tax burden on the sector, chopping and changing policy, breaking $1.4 billion worth of promises which has raised the issue of sovereign risk, and creating a difficult industrial relations environment”.

Liberal member for Mitchell (NSW) Alex Hawke described the announcement as “a sad day for Geelong and Australian manufacturing and a sad era when making things in Australia is twice as expensive as Europe and four times as (expensive as) Asia”.

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