ACL needs a long-term solution

29/06/2018 Posted by admin

ACL Bearing Company’s future needs to be secured not with a Band-Aid but for the long term. The political to-and-fro between the Launceston company and the State and Federal governments has gone on for long enough. The Northern Tasmanian economy doesn’t deserve a confidence hit in the midst of a global financial crisis. And for the 280 ACL workers – who have already struggled through months and even years of uncertainty – the prospect of losing their jobs is cruel. So who is going to step in? ACL’s directors have said it made a net profit of $1.3 million in the nine months to the end of March. But if they think the business is viable with a good future, they should be prepared to provide personal guarantees for the $4 million State Government bail-out loan. They’re not prepared to risk losing their investments. But surely the Tasmanian taxpayers shouldn’t risk losing their money either. And it wouldn’t just be the $4million. The figure could soar if the State Government becomes liable for the employees entitlements. It would also become a 44.02 per cent shareholder in ACL. Surely we can’t end up with the Government helping run a bearing company. Opposition treasury spokesman Peter Gutwein says the jobs must be saved. We agree. But there must be another way – a long-term solution. The Federal Government has committed $4 million to ACL. But that’s a pittance compared with the Federal Government’s $6.2 billion New Car Plan for a Greener Future. It’s a package to bail out the automotive manufacturing industry, which has been in decline. Industry Minister Kim Carr must look at using money from his plan to help ACL restructure if necessary to secure its future as a supplier of parts. Why should a key player in the industry miss out on a slice of that massive package and be fighting for its survival on what feels like a regular basis? That’s why the Federal Government needed to become involved instead of leaving the State Government wearing the prospective job losses. – FIONA REYNOLDS, editor
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