Members may be aware of recent comments by past Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett in the Geelong Advertiser advocating the closure of both the Ford factory and the Alcoa plant at Point Henry. Contributions such as this are entirely unwelcome to the manufacturing industry, and to talk it down at a time when it is facing its most difficult challenges beggars belief. Both companies are impacted upon by the high Australian dollar, with Ford’s impact being twofold, in that the Australian dollar makes its exports more costly and makes foreign imports more competitive.
These issues require a policy solution from governments, not self-seeking platitudes from past premiers. It is clear that Mr Kennett has not changed his views since being defeated by the regional voters of Victoria in 1999.
He regarded regional Victorians with contempt then, referring to them as the fingers and toes of the economy, with major government investments going into Melbourne and its suburbs. It is clear from his recent comments that this attitude has not changed.
What is particularly disappointing, given Mr Kennett’s association with beyondblue, an institution that does excellent work, is that he seems to be oblivious to the conflict between his statements and his association with that organisation. Job loss leads to depression, family breakdown and sometimes worse. This is well documented, and Mr Kennett must know this. His disregard for the human cost of his statements is a perfect example of why Victorians made the correct judgement on his time in office, but the failure of the current state government to comment on his statements is an alarming sign that some in this government may share his views.