500 local jobs hang in balance
FOR MANY Fraser Coast residents, it hasn’t really sunk in yet.
But the sooner they realise that the region’s economy is seriously under threat from the loss of a Queensland Rail contract, the better.
That’s the view of Andrew Dettmer, state secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, who yesterday led a fiery community meeting in Maryborough aimed at rallying residents to support a new campaign, Make it Here or Jobs Disappear.
“The only way this campaign will succeed is if people make a common cause with the workers at Downer EDi and Bombardier,” he said.
“Because it’s not just these people that will be affected – the ordinary men and women living on the Fraser Coast could also potentially be affected by this.”
One thousand jobs, 28 per cent of Maryborough’s economy and $3 billion in local business, could be lost if Qld Rail chooses an international company over EDi and Bombardier next year to build 200 passenger trains.
Mr Dettmer said that while the government had confirmed “local industry participation policies” would apply if Maryborough was to lose the contract, workers needed a firmer commitment.
He said the 500 Maryborough staff had been “hugely concerned” since QR called for expressions of interest for the contract earlier this year, which led to a number of overseas applications.
“I find it pretty strange that here is this major employer providing 28 per cent of the economy and the Bligh government decides to put out an international tender over what has been done in the past 100 years,” Mr Dettmer said.
Posters and petitions were yesterday distributed through the 100-strong crowd who rallied at the Brolga Theatre.
Member for Maryborough Chris Foley said it was important Fraser Coast residents worked together to get the message through to Queensland Premier Anna Bligh.
“(The loss of the contract) would have what is referred to as the multiplier effect on local businesses.
“It would not only sink Maryborough but also a huge chunk of the workforce that live at Hervey Bay.”