News National Vic premier seeks money for Toyota workers

Vic premier seeks money for Toyota workers

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· How costs and lack of political will forced Toyota’s hand
· Toyota calls it curtains on car manufacturing

Premier Denis Napthine will fly to Canberra on Tuesday in a bid to secure commonwealth support for Victorian workers impacted by Toyota’s decision to cease manufacturing in Australia.

About 2500 jobs are expected to be lost from the state’s Altona plant, with countless more likely to go from the components sector.

Dr Napthine said he would seek a package that extends to workers in the supply chain when he and Deputy Premier Peter Ryan meet with Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

He dismissed estimates the announcement could cost 30,000 jobs, but said the number of supply chain losses would potentially be several thousand.

A comprehensive adjustment package was needed for affected workers, he said.

“We are looking to provide assistance to affected workers,” Dr Napthine told reporters on Monday.

“We need to work with the workers to identify other opportunities for training and retraining to enhance their job prospects in a broader, diverse job market in Victoria.”

He would not put a dollar figure on the package he is seeking.

Toyota’s decision follows announcements by Holden and Ford to shut down local production.

About 1000 jobs will go from Victoria by the time Ford closes shop in October 2016, with another 1300 to be lost when Holden follows in 2017.

But the premier dismissed suggestions the state was headed for recession.

“The Victorian economy is a diverse and robust economy,” Dr Napthine said.

Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Mark Stone says it is more important than ever that governments work with business to capitalise on enduring strengths and overcome obstacles.

Unions have savaged the federal government following Toyota’s announcement.

The ACTU said the Abbott government goaded Holden into leaving and had done nothing to keep Toyota.

But Dr Napthine said world factors were responsible for the irreversible decision.

“In each of the recent decisions, the companies concerned have referred to international factors,” he said.

These include the high Australian dollar, fierce competition in the local market and the relatively high cost of production.

Victorian Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said the Napthine government would be remembered for doing nothing while the car industry died.

“Fifty thousand Victorian workers needed a jobs plan but Denis Napthine failed every single one of them,” Mr Andrews said.