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‘We think it will find a way’: Tongala locals react to Nestle closure

By Lachlan Durling

IN THE wake of Nestle Tongala’s announcement to shut up shop in the next 18 months, locals are hoping for a lifeline to keep the town’s economy moving along.

In such a tight-knit community, locals have voiced concerns as they stand to lose the trickle-down effect the industry giant still provides.

But with the development of the Tongala Murals, a proposed $12 million HW Greenham and Sons redevelopment and a $2 million investment by SLTEC Fertilizers – locals said there may just be a lifeline.

Tongala Lions Club member Murray Ross said he hoped the club’s effort to revive the town wouldn’t be in vain.

“We’re pretty passionate about Tongala and that is what we’re doing here with the murals, we’re trying to make the town survive,” he said.

“It’s pretty sad because nestle has been the backbone of Tongala for many years and it’s not only just the people that work there, it’s what they do in the community.

“They have been really responsive to any community ideas that came along and it’s sad that it’s going to close.

“I hope they sell the factory so we can get another company in the town to use up not only the facility but the local people in the area. There are some talented people in the area.”

Tongala Hotel publican Stewart Northausen said the loss will be a “kick in the guts” to the community.

“It employs a lot of locals and to lose industry of any sort is fairly hard for the community but to lose something so large with such a long history in the town it’s going to make it pretty hard for the town to keep going forward,” he said.

“With the industry they have, there are workers here they utilise, businesses in town, and without that (the money is) not going to filter through to the local supermarket, the service stations, the hotel and it’s going to have a detrimental effect on the community.”

Ken Chapman is a retired dairy farmer and a former supplier to Nestle for about 25 years. He said after such strong support from the company toward the town, it will leave a considerable dent in the town’s confidence.

“They employ a lot of people in the town and it’s a shame to see a company should take the standard they have. Particularly with the well being that they’ve done for the town,” he said.
“A lot of people are going to be affected by it, that is my feeling.

“It’s something I take to heart a bit being a retired dairy farmer and now it’s the people that are working there and young families, it adds up to stress around the town.

“But I think Tongala is a very active town and will always find a way.”