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Transcript of Interview with the ABC’s Tony Briscoe on the Closure of the King Island Abattoir

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tony Briscoe: The Federal Government will hold urgent talks with JBS Australia after the company announced it would close the abattoir.

The move comes after the closure decision that would impact around 100 jobs at the facility. JBS Australia says continued losses at the abattoir lead to the decision.

Labor Senator Anne Urquhart said it was a sudden decision.

Senator Urquhart: There has been very short notice in terms of this closure.

I got a fax through at 12:30 yesterday afternoon just advising that the operation was to close after the winter shut down.

So I think it is a concern.

The company has raised concerns about freight but in respect to that, in July 2008 the Federal Government extended the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme to intra-state shipments between King and Flinders Island and the main island of Tasmania, so Government has done something in 2008.

Then in March 2012, Minister Albanese announced the one of $20 million funding package to assist Tasmanian exporters to access international markets, so the Government certainly hasn’t been sitting on its hands in terms of trying to help industry.

I think the issue of the extra cost that the Victorian Government has put on the Port of Melbourne has not assisted places like JB Swift here at all.

Tony Briscoe: Now at the Devonport hearing JB Swift stated publicly that 5 of its 7 operations in Australia will be affected by the carbon tax.

I don’t think the King Island facility was one of those plants but is that closure indirectly affected by the carbon tax at all?

Senator Urquhart: Well look I don’t think that’s right at all because at the end of the day at the hearing they did spend a lot of time talking about their Dinmore site which was their larger site and in that they did talk about the cost of the carbon price and what that site actually produced in terms of C02 and last year they had around 8000 tonne per year.

That’s what they produce.

They were having extensive discussions with Government to put in mitigation plans to bring that down and they were looking to get that down to 25,000 tonne so you know they have been involved with Government to have those discussions, to look for opportunities whereby they can get their carbon down but also look at the process in terms of technology and improving their operations in a whole range of areas.

I mean the Labor Government has always been there to try and support businesses through tough times.

But I think one of the things that we really need to think about here is the number of workers that are involved and the effect this has on them in the loss of their job.

And you know the issue is that JBS, as I understand has offered to relocate some of those employees, whether it’s all of them yet I don’t know.

I know that the member for Braddon, Sid Sidebottom will be meeting with senior management in the coming days, so hopefully we’ll be able to get a lot more answers about what opportunities there are for two things.

One is for the employees currently but also I think importantly for what sort of a role that we might be able to play in terms of what that facility is used for in the future to try and make sure that we get some employment back on the island.

Tony Briscoe: Labor Senator Anne Urquhart on the decision to close the King Island Abattoir.

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