The lack of a federal assistance package for those working at the Gove alumina refinery in the Northern Territory is being questioned by the opposition and locals.
Following yesterday’s announcement that the Abbott government will provide $60 million to help Victoria and South Australia adjust to the end of Holden’s manufacturing operations in 2017, Labor MP for Lingiari Warren Snowdon has asked why no money has been offered to Gove workers.
“They are losing at least 1,200 jobs as well as impacting on small business and all the communities of north-east Arnhem Land,” he said, according to the ABC.
“[There is] not even a dickie bird from the Federal Government, Tony Abbott, from the Deputy Prime Minister, from the Minister for Industry or indeed from Senator [Nigel] Scullion to say to the people of Gove, we have got you in mind and we will do something for you.”
Rio announced last month that the loss-making alumina refinery will be shut in 2014. About 1,000 of the town of Nhulunbuy’s 4,000 residents are employed at Gove.
The NT and federal governments both unsuccessfully tried to arrange deals to keep the site running.
Glenn Aitchison, CEO of Yolngu Business Enterprises, accused the federal government of neglecting the area due to its remoteness.
“There is a feeling that because we are remote, that we are literally out of sight, out of mind,” he said.
“The involvement of the federal government at this stage has certainly been very, very limited.
Following the news of the close, industry minister Ian Macfarlane said, “The Australian Government will work with the Northern Territory Government to support businesses and residents impacted by this decision.
“This will include ensuring that Rio Tinto continues to provide services to Nhulunbuy and meets its obligations to its workforce.”