Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane says the state of Australia’s manufacturing industry is challenging rather than catastrophic.
The loss of thousands of jobs in Australia’s manufacturing industry is not a catastrophe but an enormous challenge the nation can overcome, Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane says.
Mr Macfarlane has dismissed suggestions the industry is in crisis, after aluminium giant Alcoa on Tuesday joined Ford, Holden and Toyota in announcing closures.
“Well it is certainly an enormous challenge but not one we can’t overcome,” he told reporters in Brisbane on Tuesday afternoon.
Almost 1000 jobs will go when Alcoa closes its Point Henry smelter in Geelong in August and its rolling mills in Geelong and Yennora in Sydney by the end of the year.
Alcoa’s announcement comes after recently announced closures by Ford, Holden and Toyota, which collectively involves the loss of more than 6500 jobs.
“This is an extraordinarily difficult time,” Mr Macfarlane said.
“No one would understate the impact this is going to have on the workers in the auto industry and at Alcoa.
“But it is not a catastrophe, it is an enormous challenge which we can overcome.”
Mr Macfarlane says he’ll meet with Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Victorian Premier Dennis Napthine on Wednesday to discuss what assistance can be provided to Alcoa.
The prospects for the Victorian economy will also be outlined in an initial report set to be handed to the federal government next week.
Mr Macfarlane says the government’s focus, at least for now, is on stimulating investment in Victoria, particularly Geelong and Adelaide where the majority of manufacturing jobs will be shed.
Options on the table include increasing infrastructure investment in Victoria to create jobs and assistance to attract new industries or encourage existing ones to expand their operations in the state.
The federal government is also looking at what skill packages can be implemented to help Alcoa and auto workers transition into other industries, Mr Macfarlane said.
He said giving Alcoa money, like Labor did in 2012, isn’t an option.
“Just throwing, for instance, another $40 million at the problem and not solving it as the Labor party has is no way to solve the problem,” he said.