UP IN SMOKE: A file picture of the blaze that destroyed the Norply plywood factory in September.
UP IN SMOKE: A file picture of the blaze that destroyed the Norply plywood factory in September.

Questions over future of Norply

By RACHEL SCOLLAY

THE future of Norply in Kyogle is in doubt with no one able to guarantee that the factory will be rebuilt.

General manager of Norply, Peter Wintour, said it would cost up to $50 million and a minimum of two years to rebuild and replace everything lost in the catastrophic September 15 factory fire.

Mr Wintour said a decision was pending from the shareholders of the company, which manufactured plywood, about its future in the next couple of months.

It would be a major blow for the fifth largest town in the region with reports now filtering through of a small number of families in Kyogle with no cash, no food, and about to get their power and phone cut off.

A Tweed Economic Development Corporation report also has identified a further 145 Kyogle jobs that could be lost in the aftermath of fire ? the majority in manufacturing, transport and retail.

That would represent about 5 per cent of the jobs in Kyogle.

Sales for some retailers were down 60 per cent since the fire, a spokeswoman for the Kyogle Chamber of Commerce has said.

Asked about the future of the factory, Mr Wintour said: "None of those things are 100 per cent sure.

"When we conclude all our negotiations with the insurance company then we'll put proposals to the shareholders. When they've voted we'll know exactly where we're going."

Mr Wintour said there would be a minimum twoyear lag before the factory was up and running again ? if the decision was made to rebuild.

Once machinery was ordered it would take 12 months before it even arrived in the country. With building and installation it would be at least two years before the factory would be up and running again.

Mr Wintour said the company was negotiating with the insurance company which had accepted liability for the claim.

"The claim is extremely large and our discussions will take some time to work through," he said.

"There was a little bit of equipment which wasn't affected, but it was almost a total loss."

Samantha Muller, the Kyogle Chamber of Commerce representative, said there were families in Kyogle facing a financial crisis.

Many have been unable to access Centrelink benefits, she said.

"They've got nothing, so people are going to have to sell their houses," she said.

"And then there's a small group who are so distressed, so in crisis, that they just see no way forward."

So the call is going out for people to shop in Kyogle.

"It isn't going to be an answer long-term. But right now we need people to make a conscious decision to shop for Christmas presents in Kyogle.

"Even if people just do it once that will all go towards helping their bottom line.

"At the heart of this community is the spirit that we won't be broken. But we do need help in the interim. We can't do it alone."

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