Premier knew of Ford's jobs news

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine knew on Wednesday that Ford would be closing car making operations in the state.

Mr Napthine defended his decision to go ahead with a planned trip to the state’s north-east despite being told on Wednesday night by Ford of the closures.

He said his visit to  towns damaged by the tordado that hit the area in March, and a visit to special development school, had been in his diary for some time and "it would break their (students) hearts if I pulled out".

Ford Australia on Thursday confirmed it was closing its Australian car making operations from October 2016, resulting in the loss of 1200 jobs.

Ford president Bob Graziano announced the end of manufacturing at Broadmeadows and Geelong.

It follows a $141 million loss for Ford Australia in 2012-13.

Dr Napthine said Ford made it clear that they saw no manufacturing future in Victoria because of the high cost of production.

"Also the added cost of the carbon tax has made it more difficult for our manufacturing industry," he said.

But Dr Napthine was not all negative, saying Toyota had a positive view of car production in the state because of its strong export focus as well as work for those who would be out of work in 2016.

"There  are opportunities ahead with 3200 jobs being created with the east-west link prokect and with our work to get Geelong as the national headquarters for the National Disabilility Insurance Scheme."

Mr Napthine will visit Geelong on Friday, where he hopes to meet unions, industry and workers.

Earlier on Thursday, he said he had "a discussion yesterday with Ford on a confidential basis".

"I understand they will be making a statement later today," he said.

"They are meeting with staff this morning and as soon as there is a public statement from Ford, I will be at liberty to make further statements.

"Fortunately we have strong economy in this state.”

He said Victoria had good jobs growth and that the State Government would work with the federal governement to help those people who were effected as well as businesses in the supply chain.

But he also took a swipe at the federal government, saying taxes had hurt Victoria's competitiveness through rising power prices.

"We are suffering more than [any] other state from the job-killing carbon tax," Dr Napthine said.

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said the state government did not have a plan for jobs in Victoria.

He said any rescue response needed to create jobs for the skill set of the Ford workers, rather than in areas where the car factory workers have no skills.

Local Labor MP Frank McGuire said the closure of Ford’s Broadmeadows production facility would gut the community.

He said on top of the 650 job losses at the Broadmeadows plant, another 650 jobs in the community were likely to go.

‘‘More than 1300 jobs will be lost in this community,’’ Mr McGuire said. ‘‘This will have a devastating effects on families and on the people who have dedicated their lives and their careers and their hard work, sweat and muscle to help deliver these cars.’’

He said cuts in the recent state budget would compound the damage caused by the closure of the plant.

He said the Napthine government had robbed Broadmeadows of $75 million in infrastructure spending in the state budget and gutted TAFEs in the area.

Henry Fuller, 50, has worked at Ford for 25 years. He has a family and mortgage and lives in Grovedale. He said workers were numb and talking on their phones to loved ones about the news.

"I feel gutted for a start," Mr Fuller said.

"It doesn't help knowing that there is a date but it helps knowing the date.

"Most of the people feel very sad that a day has finally been put forward to leave.’’

Mr Fuller described his job prospects in 2016 as "very slim" for full time work. He said the impact on Geelong would be "terrible".

"We would like to hear a good news story for Geelong. Somebody has to step in and say ‘Yes, we have these jobs here’. Geelong [people] are proud workers."

State Labor MP for Western Victoria Division Gayle Tierney said the region of Barwon South West, which included Geelong, had the highest unemployment rate in Victoria for the past two years.

With Henrietta Cook, Deborah Gough and Eleanor Spring

The story Premier knew of Ford's jobs news first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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