Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

CHH Secrecy Sealed FATE OF 60 Jobs O'Brien Says CHH Jobs Could Have Been Saved 'Clear Explanation' Needed; Concern at Knock-On Effect to Suppliers

Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

CHH Secrecy Sealed FATE OF 60 Jobs O'Brien Says CHH Jobs Could Have Been Saved 'Clear Explanation' Needed; Concern at Knock-On Effect to Suppliers

Article excerpt

Byline: frances klein

FEDERAL member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien has slammed the secrecy surrounding the proposed closure of Gympie's Carter Holt Harvey Pinepanels factory, which could leave up to 60 employees jobless come mid-April.

The Nationals MP is demanding a full explanation from the New Zealand-based company, whose failure to consult the government on any level about the impending factory closure could have cost scores of Gympie jobs.

Gympie employees were told at the end of their shift on Wednesday the international plywood company was likely to close its Langton Rd factory in two months due to an impending drop in demand for particle board produced on the site.

The blow to the Gympie and Wide Bay communities, with up to 60 Gympie jobs directly on the line and a knock-on effect to local suppliers and contractors, may have been able to be prevented, Mr O'Brien said.

"The timber industry is a big employer in Wide Bay right across the supply chain, comprising growers, mills, and manufacturers," he said.

"Carter Holt Harvey's Gympie operation is a key component of the industry and its jobs are vitally important to our community."

Government initiatives could have helped sustain the company's Gympie operations, Mr O'Brien said.

If the company had reached out, economic development agency representatives from the three levels of government could have formed a round-table to study the situation and circumstances.

A range of initiatives at Federal, State and Local Government levels may have been able to keep the company running here.

"If the business is willing to engage I'm sure all levels of government would be willing to consider what could be done to save these local jobs," Mr O'Brien said.

"A roundtable could identify issues and determine whether Federal, State and Local Governments working with the company could determine any existing programs that could help or if a special assistance package could be formulated. …

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