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Federal Government surprised and disappointed -

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ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Industry Minister Kim Carr says he is profoundly disappointed by the
Pacific Brands' decision, saying he had recently spoken to the company and asked if there was
anything the Government could do to help.

The Minister told Alexandra Kirk that he doesn't think shedding jobs was the company's only option.

KIM CARR: We are profoundly disappointed that Pacific Brands has announced that their intention is
to withdraw from manufacturing worldwide. We understand that 1850 Australians will lose their jobs;
our first concern is with the welfare of those workers and their families.

This is an extremely difficult period for everyone but particularly for people that lose their jobs
under these circumstances.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Was there nothing the Government could do to help the company with such iconic
brands as Bonds, Hard Yakka, King Gee, to stem these job losses.

KIM CARR: Three weeks ago I made it my business to directly talk to the company's senior management
to establish whether or not it was possible to change this decision.

The company has made this decision based on its view of its commercial interests and it has been
made at the strategic level after a yearlong review that the company has commissioned itself.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: So do you accept that these job losses were unavoidable?

KIM CARR: The job losses that the company has announced would appear to be unavoidable; we are
prepared to talk further about maintaining the capacity in the industry.

We will do all in our power to keep people in work and to ensure that the capacity is kept in the
industry. This is a very, very serious blow for workers in this country.

The industry does have a viable future in this country but it is important that we get the right
decisions and that is why we'll continue to talk with everyone to ensure that we do the best we can
to keep people in work, to keep them in good jobs, in high skilled jobs and to ensure that
innovation becomes a centrepiece for the future of this industry.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: What help were you willing to offer them?

KIM CARR: Well we're prepared to talk to the company about whatever action is required but there is
nothing that the company was actually looking for to change its decision; it had already made its
decision.

It made its decision on a commercial basis, to change its structure and in terms of its debt
reduction. This is an example yet again of the consequences of the global financial crisis.

This is a company that's made its decisions based on its commercial interests.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Treasurer Wayne Swan talked about the cash payments to people being used to do
things as simple as buying socks and jocks; so is there a question mark now over the viability of
your economic stimulus package when despite those cash handouts, this company for example, has had
to shed 1,800 jobs?

KIM CARR: There is no doubt about the success of the package that was announced last year and the
new package that we're working through right now; there is no alternative but to stimulate
aggregate demand and to do so quickly.

This Government has acted decisively and it has acted absolutely correctly, as governments around
the world have done.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But did it really stimulate demand?

KIM CARR: Well the fact is, and in this particular case, company sales are down two per cent, they
made an announcement on the stock exchange today.

But I repeat, this is a company that's had a yearlong review. It has made decisions on what it
perceives to be in its interests.

It is choosing to withdraw from manufacturing in Australia and around the globe.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Do you believe they had any other choice?

KIM CARR: I don't believe they did have only this choice but that's the decision they've made. We
have approached them to try to get them to change that view, we have been successful with other
manufacturing companies in the automotive industry and getting people to change their view, but
we're not successful with this company.

It had made its decisions; it made its announcements to the stock exchange in December and is now
acting on those decisions with further announcements today.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Are there some lessons to be learned, both for the Government and business, as the
fallout from the global financial crisis deepens and many more workers in Australia face
retrenchment?

KIM CARR: The truth is we're all learning, we're all learning because this is a crisis that is
moving much more rapidly than anyone could have expected or understood.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: So do you want to be given more notice by industry as it plans to shed jobs?

KIM CARR: We want to hear from industry when they're in the good times and the bad; we're about
building new jobs for the future.

But we also want to hear when they're cutting jobs; we want to know what actions that we can take
to avert that situation.

But this is a case where the Government has done all that it can, it's providing up to $10-million
per annum to this company, nothing more could have been done with this particular situation.

This is a company that's made its own decisions based on its own assessments of its commercial
interests.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Federal Industry Minister Senator Kim Carr, speaking to Alexandra Kirk.