Industry. Circular Head Acting Mayor Jan Bishop says the news of the closure of Murray Goulburn Co-Operative’s Edith Creek facility has rocked the community.
Murray Goulburn will also close its Victorian facilities at Rochester and Kiewa and “forgive” the Milk Supply Support Package, the company has stated.
“This news has come as a shock to council, with no prior communication from Murray Goulburn that this was being considered,” Cr Bishop said following the announcement on Tuesday.
“Council would also like to understand the reasons why the Edith Creek facility was selected for closure.
“I understand that the impact of global milk prices would be a factor for Murray Goulburn, but with 40 per cent of the milk production in Tasmania coming from Circular Head, every possible opportunity for the site to continue to process milk under a different ownership should be on the table.
“Murray Goulburn has owned the Edith Creek factory for 10 years, but the site has been processing milk for more than 50 years and we hope that given the opportunity, it could continue to do so.”
Up to 120 local jobs are expected to be lost as a result and 360 employees affected nationwide.
Cr Bishop said the flow on effect would have significant consequences for contractors, suppliers and businesses.
“The Circular Head Council and the wider community will support those impacted by this decision as it takes effect over the next 12 months,” she said.
Federal Member for Braddon Justine Keay reinforced that the announcement applied further pressure on the community.
“This is the last thing the region needs following the effect of last year’s price clawback by Murray Goulburn and the resulting dairy crisis,” she said.
“In many cases the partners of local farmers worked at the Edith Creek plant which means household incomes in Circular Head will be placed under even more pressure.”
Ms Keay said the co-op needed to refocus its attention on suppliers and employees.
“While it is welcoming that the company will end its controversial milk support package, this will be cold comfort to those losing their jobs or with a cloud over their milk contract,” she said.
“I am also glad to hear that farmers will not be affected, with the Smithton powdered milk plant expected to take on Edith Creek’s milk supply.”
Minister for Primary Industries and Water Jeremy Rockliff said the state government would be on hand to assist during the transition with their Skills Response Unit to be dispatched to Edith Creek this week.
“Dairy is one of Tasmania’s greatest competitive strengths, with the industry valued at approximately $440 million, supporting approximately 1400 jobs and 430 farms.
“Our dairy industry is a true Tasmanian icon and has a bright future.”