JEREMY ROCKLIFF, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure

Government gives up on North-West pulp mill jobs
· The Government has all but given up on over 500 pulp mill jobs on the North-West Coast

· The Government is continuing its track record of not even talking to major employers that are in trouble

· The Government needs to at least investigate all the options available to save these jobs

I cannot believe that the Government has taken such a defeatist attitude to protecting over 500 jobs at the two North-West Coast paper mills.

There is a process in place that will assist in addressing issues concerning the viability of the two mills, yet the Government seems to have already given up on the North-West Coast.

The Federal Government announced a Pulp and Paper Industry Strategy Group in March. At the time, Sid Sidebottom, the Federal Labor MP for Braddon, and the Federal Industry Minister said “the Review will give government, the North West Coast Community and the industry a clearer understanding of where things are at and what the industry may need to sustain its future”.

It was extraordinary last week in Budget Estimates when the Treasurer, Michael Aird, dismissed the value of such an initiative when 500 jobs are on the line.

This follows in the wake of the Government’s appalling handling of the recent crisis at ACL where they refused to even talk to the company until the very last moment, with 270 jobs up in the air.

While it shouldn’t be the Government’s role to bail out unsustainable companies with taxpayer funds I would have thought that the Government would at least give credence to the Federal Government’s Pulp and Paper Industry Strategy Group and work on developing options for one of the North-West Coast’s major employers.

I would have thought that the Government would leave no stone unturned in finding a solution that could save over 500 jobs.

This inaction is typical of a Government that is taking Tasmania in the wrong direction, when what we need is some vision and leadership to make sure that Tasmania is protected as much as possible from the ravages of the recession.