Funds to help factory workers
Campaspe Shire Council will receive $50 000 from the Victorian Government to support more than 100 workers who will be affected by the closure of Murray Goulburn’s Rochester milk processing plant.
Announced by Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford last week, the funding will enable the council to undertake community economic development planning.
Campaspe Shire Mayor Adrian Weston said the funding was a ‘‘great start’’ and council would be focused on not only helping workers but finding a future for the soon-to-be-empty factory.
‘‘We’ve been meeting fairly regularly to work together with the community, Murray Goulburn and also the Indigo Shire (the council responsible for Kiewa, the site of the second Victorian factory closure) to deliver an outcome that doesn’t involve empty factories in the two cities,’’ he said.
‘‘(An empty factory) is not an outcome that we want and it is certainly loud and clear that we’re doing everything to work with Murray Goulburn and other stakeholders to ensure we don’t end up with an empty factory in the middle of town.’’
The community economic development plans will involve consultation with the community and aims to set out a clear direction for growth and development, boosting local job prospects and the economy.
The government also announced a 12-month extension to the Rural Skills Connect program, which aims to fill rural industry skill gaps, promote re-skilling and provide opportunities for traineeships in the Murray Dairy region, to support workers in Tangambalanga (Kiewa) and Rochester.
Factory closures in Rochester, Kiewa and Edith Creek in northern Tasmania were announced in May. A staged closure of the Rochester milk processing plant is under way, with the factory to close its doors for the final time next year.
‘‘We’ve just got to wait and see what transpires but we are continuing to have conversations with Murray Goulburn with a view to working with them to get the best outcome for the community,’’ Cr Weston said.
Council will announce further details and open expressions of interests for experienced consultants to assist with the plan in the coming months.