My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Industry and Trade. Ford Geelong recently announced it would close its in-line six-cylinder engine plant in 2010 with the loss of 600 full-time jobs. The Geelong economy is vibrant at the moment with over 6000 jobs created in the last 12 months. As a matter of fact, this represents an employment growth rate of 3.2 per cent, taking the total to 186 475 jobs in the 12 months to May. The Ford closure will be a significant setback to these great jobs and growth figures. The multiplier effect of this closure is in the order of three to four times, which means that the Geelong community will have to endure the loss of 1800 to 2400 jobs with the closure. Therefore the state government, in conjunction with the commonwealth government and Ford, has created a new $24 million investment and innovation fund for Geelong to offset the job losses from Ford.
The Innovation Investment Fund will offer competitive grants for projects which create new jobs in the region.
It will have an advisory committee chaired by a prominent local businessperson with representatives of both governments.
Manufacturing has played an extremely important role in Geelong, underpinning its economy. Geelong is well positioned to be the home of ongoing manufacturing. We need to know that ongoing manufacturing in Geelong is strongly supported by governments, because it is strongly supported by the community. We also need to know what measures will be taken to ensure that manufacturing will continue in Geelong, such as the community support for the declaration of the Ford Geelong site as a manufacturing precinct. Many people who live in Geelong want to know what the state and federal governments will be putting in place to align the skills held by former Ford workers with those required for newly created jobs in Geelong.
I ask the minister to advise me of the strategy and subsequent implementation that will be adopted so that Ford workers will have a reasonable shot at securing employment in manufacturing, and future employment in general, in the local area.