S Lowe 5THE FM newsonline wattlerangenow
In a statement just release Federal Member for Barker Tony Pasin has vowed to do all he can to help those affected by the closure of Penola potato processing plant owned by McCain Foods.
‘FEDERAL Member for Barker Tony Pasin is organising to meet with the regional president of McCain Foods, Louis Wolthers, as soon as possible following McCain’s recent announcement that it would close its Penola potato processing plant.
Mr Pasin said while he understood external pressures had brought about the closure, it was important that he highlight the negative impacts of the decision, both short-term and long-term, on behalf of the plant’s employees, local potato growers and affected communities in the region.
“One of the most important things for me is ensuring McCain continues to support local potato growers and that the industry remains viable in the South East,” Mr Pasin said.
“McCain has blamed increasing costs of labour and electricity, as well as competition from cheaper imported potatoes. Plainly, we need to find ways to reduce the cost of doing business in Australia so that we can be more competitive.”
Since the McCain announcement, Mr Pasin has remained in contact with local potato growers in the South East as they continue to renegotiate supply contracts with McCain.
Mr Pasin’s forthcoming meeting with McCain comes after he discussed the impending closure of the Penola plant with Federal Industry Minister, Ian MacFarlane on his most recent stay in Canberra.
“I briefed the Minister in relation to McCain’s announcement and outlined to him the likely local impact of the plant’s closure. He shared my disappointment, but remains absolutely committed to ensuring there is a future for regional industries,” Mr Pasin said.
“One of the things I took out of my discussion with the Minister was the importance of companies like McCain engaging with the Government when they make big decisions such as this. Working in conjunction with Government and local communities ensures all options are explored and better outcomes for all interested parties can be achieved,” Mr Pasin said.
“Both the Minister and I remain willing to work with McCain – our doors are open. That’s why I’m arranging to meet with Mr Wolthers when I am in Canberra in the coming fortnight.”
Mr Pasin reiterated the promise made the afternoon of the closure announcement, saying he remains committed to helping affected employees and suppliers in any possible way during this difficult time.
“I will do everything I can to ensure Barker is always a competitive place for a range of industries and that our diverse regional economy remains on solid footing for growth and the creation of new jobs in the future.” ‘