From todays Age.
4WD Falcon set to get the green light today
By EWIN HANNAN
and TOBY HAGON
Thursday 15 November 2001
Ford Australia is today expected to announce plans for a $500 million investment in its Victorian operation, including production of a four-wheel-drive Falcon.
The move will create 400 jobs at Ford's Campellfield and Geelong plants.
It is believed that Ford Australia president Geoff Polites will join Premier Steve Bracks and Manufacturing Industry Minister Rob Hulls to announce the seven-year investment today.
Mr Polites is believed to have won support for the project, code-named Raptor, from Ford executives at the company's global headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.
The Australian-designed Raptor, which will be sold under a different name, is expected to have three rows of seats and be built with both six-cylinder and V8 power. It is likely to be available in 2004.
It is believed Mr Polites has been working with Mr Bracks and Mr Hulls on an investment plan since the start of the year. The government appears to have agreed to provide Ford with taxpayer-funded incentives and benefits, but it would not disclose details yesterday.
The Ford investment follows Holden's decision last year to build a $500 million engine plant in Melbourne.
Mr Bracks is expected to seize on the Ford decision, particularly given the continued job losses in some high-profile companies throughout Victoria.
Optus yesterday confirmed it would sack a further 561 workers, prompting union claims that about 12,000 jobs had been lost in the telecommunications industry this year. An Optus spokeswoman said 344 full-time staff and 217 contractors were marked to go.
She said any full-time staff not able to be reassigned would be made redundant next Wednesday, and the contractors would leave after finishing their projects.
Most of the job losses were in Sydney, but 54 full-time positions would be lost in Melbourne.
Ford all but confirmed yesterday that the 4WD Falcon would go into production when it disclosed that Mr Bracks and Mr Hulls would join Mr Polites at today's press conference.
Ford said it would confirm a "significant investment" in its production plant as well as more jobs for Victorians. The company would not be more specific last night.
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