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18. July 2007

600 jobs go as Ford shuts plant

FORD'S engine plant in Geelong will close in 2010, resulting in the loss of 600 jobs, federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane confirmed today.

Jim Mock's automotive business will be affected by Ford's job cuts.

Ford is yet to make an official announcement, but Mr Macfarlane today said he had known for about a month and a half that the move was likely.

He received official confirmation a few days ago, he said.

“In response to that, the Commonwealth and Victorian governments are today announcing an innovation and investment fund to cover the Geelong area,” Mr Macfarlane told reporters.

The federal government will contribute $15 million to the fund, and the Victorian government $6 million, he said.

“As well as that Ford have agreed with the commonwealth to establish a $3 million community fund and that is to assist those people that will now face a very difficult situation as the plant is wound down in 2010 and Ford moves its next model Falcon to a V6 engine.”

Mr Macfarlane said the fund was to attract other business to the Geelong region.

He said he was not aware of any plans to shed more jobs from Ford's Broadmeadows plant in Melbourne.

“We are confident about the future situation of the Australian car industry,” he said.

Asked whether the government had tried to convince Ford not to close the plant, Mr Macfarlane said: “We had a long discussion with Ford but I think it needs to be understood that the commonwealth did step in in 2005 and provide Ford with $28 million ... to assist them in trying make the current in-line six cylinder engine more efficient.”

Ford Australia was first established in Geelong, Victoria's second largest city, in 1925.

The company was scheduled to address workers at the plant at 1pm (AEST). A media conference was expected to be held after that meeting.

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