Tasmanian Country - - FRONT PAGE - HE­LEN KEMP­TON

A MILK fac­tory in the state’s North-West has been sold to a Thai com­pany on the eve of its clo­sure and the small com­mu­nity is al­ready cel­e­brat­ing a more pros­per­ous new era.

Mur­ray Goul­burn an­nounced in May it would close three fa­cil­i­ties, in­clud­ing its UHT milk plant at Edith Creek, by the end of the year.

The an­nounce­ment sent the 120 em­ploy­ees at the time and the Cir­cu­lar Head com­mu­nity into shock.

Yes­ter­day af­ter­noon 80 work­ers clocked off for the last time un­der MG’s own­er­ship but those stay­ing in the re­gion are hop­ing to be back on site in a few months.

MG said this week it had sold Edith Creek to Dutch Mill (Australia), a sub­sidiary of Dutch Mill group of Thai­land. The pri­vately owned group pro­cesses and mar­kets dairy prod­ucts through­out Asia.

Work­ers, the Cir­cu­lar Head Coun­cil, the Tas­ma­nian Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try and farm­ing groups all wel­comed the sale.

The Thai com­pany has bought six dairy farms in Cir­cu­lar Head over the past three years and those are leased by the TCCI’s deputy chair­man, Smith­ton lo­cal Paul Arnold.

Mayor Daryl Quilliam said the com­pany’s move into pro­cess­ing was a wa­ter­shed mo­ment that would bring “great wealth to the re­gion.”

“I have met the com­pany’s chair­man, Thi­rayuth Chai­sawang­wong, on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions and I can say he is a spe­cial man with a large vi­sion and a deep so­cial con­vic­tion.”

Mayor Quilliam said Dutch Mill curently had a daily reach of 30 mil­lion cus­tomers across Asia.

“This is the sort of mar­ket we have longed for. At present they buy large quan­ti­ties of milk pow­der from New Zealand to aug­ment their dairy fac­to­ries in Thai­land,” he said.

This is the sort of mar­ket we have longed for DARYL QUILLIAM

The TCCI said Edith Creek was a key as­set for Cir­cu­lar Head and the Tas­ma­nian dairy in­dus­try.

Dutch Mill ex­pects the plant to be back in oper­a­tion by the mid­dle of 2018 but how many cur­rent work­ers will be re-em­ployed is not cer­tain.

The Na­tional Union of Work­ers has asked Dutch Mill to con­firm if work­ers could and if the same wages and con­di­tions would ap­ply.

Tas­ma­nian Farm­ers and Gra­ziers As­so­ci­a­tion dairy coun­cil chair­man An­drew Lester said the sale would keep up competition for milk in the re­gion and per­haps open up more Tas­ma­nian brand­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

MG has ac­cepted a bid for its busi­ness from Canada’s Sa­puto, but the deal did not in­clude Edith Creek.

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