Pollies push for action

THE owner of the South Grafton abattoir Stuart Ramsey had little time for Clarence Valley Mayor Richie Williamson yesterday.

Mr Ramsey reportedly returned the Mayor's call simply to say that he wouldn't be discussing the abattoir closure and that Cr Williamson didn't care.

Earlier, Cr Williamson had told The Daily Examiner that he did not accept Mr Ramsey's attempt to blame government departments for the closure.

"He needs to take responsibility for his actions, there is nobody else to blame but himself," Cr Williamson said.

His comments were echoed by Member for Page Janelle Saffin, who pointed to yesterday's comment article by Examiner editor David Bancroft which said Mr Ramsey should not blame government departments for the closure.

"This is very disappointing. For a company to just pull up stumps and move - what sort of loyalty is that to workers, and to a town," Ms Saffin said. "My office will be doing all it can to support any of the workers who have been told their Grafton jobs have gone."

Country Labor candidate for the Clarence by-election, Peter Ellem, called on the State Government to invest in the region to support local jobs.

"While I understand some of the workers may be able to work in Casino, we need to ensure all affected workers are given immediate support and assistance," Mr Ellem said.

"The O'Farrell/Stoner Government needs to immediately act to ensure these hard-working people are not cast adrift in the lead-up to Christmas.

"The loss of up to 200 jobs at the South Grafton abattoir comes on top of news that the unemployment rate for Northern NSW has risen from 6% cent to 6.3% in August alone.

Nationals candidate for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said the closure marked the end of a long and difficult situation over waste management issues.

"This is a sad outcome for everyone involved," he said. "Whilst many jobs will stay in the electorate with the transfer to Casino, no one ever likes uncertainty, especially heading into the holiday season.

"Both the former NSW government and the new NSW Liberals and Nationals Government tried to find ways to work with management to resolve the (waste management) issues and keep the plant open but in the end no solution was available.

"It is my understanding that significant investment would have been required in the plant to meet environmental requirements and that, given the economic uncertainty both in Australia and globally, the owners were not able to make that investment.

"I have made contact with the Deputy Premier's office to ascertain what support and assistance may be available for the employees and their families once further details are available."

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