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Wednesday, 24 August 1983
Page: 242

Mr O'KEEFE(11.41) —My speech tonight concerns the closure of the Bradmill Textiles Pty Ltd Rutherford plant at Maitland. On Friday 29 July, in company with His Worship, the Mayor of Maitland, Alderman Ron Walsh, I visited the Town Hall and met Mr Rod Hartley, the General Manager and top executive in Australia of Bradmill's huge textile enterprise, to discuss the closure of the Rutherford textile mill at Maitland. Mr Hartley informed us that the directors of Bradmill had decided to close their textile mill at Rutherford by Christmas 1983. He indicated that this decision was final and informed us that the Rutherford mill had lost $9.6m in its operations since 1980, although it was then showing small profits. He also stated that the employees would be granted reasonable severance pay according to their years of service. After meeting the Mayor and me, Mr Hartley visited the Rutherford plant and informed the employees of the company's decision.

Naturally great concern was expressed by the 600 employees of the textile mill, the closure of which would cause considerable problems for the men and women employed there as well as their wives, husbands and children. The number of people involved could be some 2,000 persons, taking into consideration the family units. If the mill closes the economic effect on the city of Maitland would, of course, be disastrous. A public meeting was held at the Maitland Town Hall on Wednesday 10 August. It was attended by some 500 employees, by Mr John Roughley, Secretary of the Australian Textile Workers Union, Mr Dave Wetherall of the Trades and Labour Council, the honourable member for Hunter (Mr Robert Brown), who is present tonight, and the local member of the Legislative Assembly for Maitland, Mr Alan Walsh. The meeting was extremely orderly. It finally passed a unanimous resolution that a deputation of the parliamentary members, the union representatives and one representative from the Rutherford plant be formed and wait on the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke), the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Button) and the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Willis) to request Federal Government assistance to keep the Bradmill textile mill operating and, if possible, to arrange a meeting with Mr Rod Hartley to see whether arrangements of this nature could be made.

Mr Dave Wetherall of the Trades and Labour Council was appointed co-ordinator of the delegation. So far he has not been able to arrange an appointment with the Ministers concerned. This is a very important matter and I ask the Ministers concerned to meet this important delegation in the immediate future because great concern is being experienced in Maitland by all the employees in this wonderful textile industry.