Federal Member for Murray Damian Drum said rumours had been swirling for some time of changes at Murray Goulburn before last week’s shock announcement of the closure of three plants, including its Rochester facility.
‘‘We were hoping it wouldn’t be a total shutdown,’’ Mr Drum said.
‘‘With 150 jobs we are talking about 150 families, everyone will be very badly impacted.’’
He said the loss would have a devastating impact on the town of Rochester, with the factory due to close in the second half of 2018 after a planned shutdown in Kiewa, south of Wodonga.
He said the shutdown showed the pressures regional food producers were under, especially in the dairy industry, which has had a difficult 12 months.
After the news of the shutdown broke, he contacted Federal Agriculture Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, as well as the office of the employment minister to see what assistance the Federal Government could offer.
Mr Drum remained hopeful the Rochester site would be sold off to another dairy processor to keep jobs in the town.
‘‘That is a genuine possibility,’’ he said.
State Member for Northern Victoria Luke O’Sullivan said he wanted the Victorian Government to do everything it could to help the workers at the site.
‘‘It might require these workers obtaining new skills so they can work in other fields,’’ Mr O’Sullivan said.
‘‘I would hope that the premier and minister for agriculture talk to the workers as soon as possible and give them reassurance.’’
While he recognised the dairy industry had been through a difficult period, he said the leadership of Murray Goulburn had made the problem worse with its decision to force clawbacks on suppliers.
‘‘Enforcing that caused a lot of financial stress and hardship, and Murray Goulburn lost a lot of suppliers as a result of that decision.
‘‘There is no doubt that former CEO Gary Helou has a lot to answer for.’’