GLENELG Shire Council will step up its fight to save Portland jobs under threat from a national downturn in the manufacturing industry.
Councillors issued a call to the nation’s leaders this week saying they could not face the fight alone, passing a motion for a massive mail out to state and federal ministers.
The motion comes after a string of prominent businesses shut their doors across the city.
This week Thorpes Machinery announced it would close after 60 years in business.
Earlier in the month Portland Mitre 10 entered liquidation, putting 10 staff out of work.
A cloud also hangs over the future of wind turbine builder Keppel Prince — one of the city’s largest employers.
A planned rally outside the offices of wind farm developer REpower in Melbourne fell through this month after organisers were unable to muster enough numbers — despite widespread anger over the company’s decision to use Korean-made turbines.
Keppel Prince is also pursuing an anti-dumping claim through the federal government that will seek evidence that China and other countries are exporting turbines to Australia below the cost of their production, with the single aim of wiping out local builders.
Portland Aluminium is not believed to be under any significant pressure and has upped production by opening new smelter pots.
Glenelg Shire mayor Karen Stephens said the pressures on the Portland retail and manufacturing sectors were part of an economic downturn faced by rural Australia.
“I think all of rural Australia has seen a slowdown in spending … some of that is just pressure on household finances,” Cr Stephens said.
Asked if the high-profile closures pointed to a specific crisis in Portland, the mayor pointed to Mount Gambier’s business sector, which also experienced a Mitre 10 closure 18 months ago.
“The federal government have to come into rural Australia and support communities,” Cr Stephens said.
“We can’t do it alone.”
Glenelg council will also plan a business forum and prepare a paper on the economic climate.
Councillors supported an initiative to secure tracts of land to develop into future industrial areas.