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Fears Alcoa will close Point Henry aluminium plant

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Fears are growing that Alcoa will shut the Point Henry aluminium smelter near Geelong and hundreds of workers will lose their jobs.

The Australian reports that the future of the smelter has been in doubt for some time and the company has set the end of March as its decision deadline.

In 2012 Alcoa received $40 million of assistance from The Gillard Government to keep the plant open. But last month fears of the smelter’s imminent demise rose when the company declined to seek further assistance from either the state or the federal government.

The Australian Workers Union (AWU) represents 700 full-time workers at the plant.

Ben Davis, AWU state secretary told the Age he was “very pessimistic about what that announcement will be’’ and added that he expected a decision to be made in the next few weeks.

Referring to Toyota’s decision this week to close its Altona manufacturing plant and earlier announcements of factory closures by Ford and Shell, Davis expressed dissatisfaction with the industry policies pursued by all levels of government.

‘‘We’ve got a Prime Minister who has shown real antipathy towards manufacturing, especially unionised manufacturers,’’ he told the Age.

‘‘We’ve got a Premier who is asleep at the wheel. And we’ve got a mayor of Geelong who is more interested in putting his name on billboards than doing anything.’’

As The Border Mail reports, Victorian Premier Denis Napthine flew to Canberra yesterday to lobby the federal government to undertake major infrastructure projects to deal with issue.

Specifically, he would like the second phase of the east-west link’s western connections, linking to the Melbourne port and the Western Ring Road to be started; and he would also like an overhaul of Victoria’s rail network to be considered.

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