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by Tim Beissmann

Former federal government minister Greg Combet has been appointed South Australia’s automotive transformation coordinator in a role that will see him oversee the evolution of the industry over the coming years.

The appointment follows Holden’s announcement that it will end production at its Elizabeth assembly plant in South Australia – and its Port Melbourne engine plant in Victoria – at the end of 2017.

Approximately 1600 workers at the Elizabeth facility will be forced to look for new employment before 2018, while thousands of others employed by parts suppliers are expected to face similar futures as demand for their products disappears.

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said Combet would initially be supported by the Advanced Manufacturing Taskforce and would be responsible for coordinating assistance provided to automotive industry workers and automotive suppliers.

“Mr Combet has significant experience with the auto manufacturing industry as a former minister and has a constructive relationship with the Federal Government,” Weatherill said.

The Premier says the SA Government has established a series of initiatives to assist workers and begin work on the transformation of the state’s manufacturing industry, and will meet with component suppliers tomorrow to discuss the government’s plans.

“The manufacturing strategy was initially planned to be a 10-year strategy however we will now accelerate that work to be undertaken within four years to coincide with Holden’s planned exit,” Weatherill said.

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Combet briefly held the role of Minister for Industry and Innovation under the previous government between March and June this year. The one-time Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary held the position of Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency between 2010 and 2013.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is today expected to announce the details of a Federal Government’s assistance package to help workers affected by Holden’s closure announcement.




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