Sharon Knight's claim of 1100 Ballarat jobs lost in three months disputed

Sharon Knight MP. File image
Sharon Knight MP. File image

INDUSTRY groups have disputed claims by Ballarat West MP Sharon Knight that the Ballarat region shed more than 1000 manufacturing jobs in the three months to May.

Ms Knight said the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed 1100 full-time jobs were lost from March to May 2014. Ms Knight said the drop was “really concerning for local manufacturing”.

However Australian Industry Group regional manager Kay Macaulay said she wasn’t aware of any significant manufacturing redundancies or closures in the Ballarat region over that period. 

“If you said 1000 jobs over the past two, two-and-a-half, three years then yes, I would agree,” she said. 

Ms Macaulay said CMI, Lyco, and Miric Industries had cut jobs over the past two years but the sector was looking promising.

“Over the past couple of years there’s been a significant downturn in the industry sector but, in saying that, manufacturing is still a major employer in the region and contributes significantly to the local economy,” she said. 

“They’ve (manufacturing companies) gone through the pain of shedding people. Now they’re looking at how to transition into others areas to see how their business will be viable going forward.” 

“If you said 1000 jobs over the past two, two-and-a-half, three years then yes, I would agree."

Kay Macaulay, Australian Industry Group

Western District Employment Access Ballarat site manager Angela Harris said she had not seen an influx of unemployed manufacturing workers in recent months.

“For more than 1000 people, you’d nearly think there would have to be massive closures of plants,” she said. “We’re not talking about how it’s a closed door to (finding jobs with) manufacturers.” 

Ms Knight could not tell The Courier which manufacturers in the region had cut jobs, and said her comments were based on ABS data.

“When a region loses 2000 manufacturing jobs over the past year, you know there is a problem,” she said. 

Liberal candidate for Wendouree Craig Coltman said: “You can drag up almost all the figures you want to support your argument.”

Mr Coltman said the Napthine government was working to create new jobs in Ballarat.

“Any job loss is too many. 

“That’s why it is so important that we move VicRoads’ headquarters to Ballarat.

“It is a game-changer,” he said.