South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has announced his rescue plan for workers displaced by Holden‘s decision to cease production by the end of 2017.
Dubbed ‘Our Jobs Plan’, the proposal includes a four-year, $60 million state government commitment to 14 initiatives designed to prepare South Australia for Holden’s manufacturing exit, and asks for an additional $330 million commitment from the Federal Government.
Developed in consultation with the community sector, banks, industry leaders and unions, the plan aims to introduce new re-skilling and re-employment programs for displaced General Motors Holden workers; establish a new Jobs Acceleration Fund to assist businesses and a Community Building Fund focused on local and urban projects; and support affected communities and local entrepreneurs via employment strategies and start-up initiatives respectively.
Targeting job creation and the strengthening of local employment opportunities, the plan also seeks to accelerate advanced manufacturing through the development of new industries and smart specialisation precincts; the expansion of the Manufacturing Leaders Network to boost manufacturing knowledge and expertise; and by providing new Business Transformation Vouchers of up to $50,000 to about 200 small and medium enterprises to assist growth and diversification.
“Now is not the time to cut and run – now is the time to step up and work together,” Weatherill said.
“There are 13,000 South Australian jobs at risk and we need to look after those workers and every other South Australian who will be affected by the closure.
“For automotive workers this plan means you will be provided with support to retrain, to find new work and get counselling that helps you manage the impacts on your budget and family life.
“For workers and industries, this plan means that government will be making investments that help your industry grow faster, create more jobs sooner and enable you to plan your future in South Australia with confidence.”
Weatherill said while his state might have the knowledge and community connection to make the plan work, “We cannot do it alone – the Federal Government must also step up and invest”.
“The plan we are asking them to help fund is robust and reasonable with a cost that’s just a third of the savings the Federal Government is making by cutting car industry support.”
Without elaborating, Weatherill also added Holden would “need to commit to working with us”.
The jobs plan also includes expanding the Automotive Diversification Program to help automotive supply businesses find alternative markets and opportunities, assisting around 200 companies with 5500 workers to diversify from the automotive supply chain over the next four years, and the review of any future use of GM Holden’s Elizabeth facility.
Further job creation is to come from accelerating Federal Government infrastructure projects including roadway improvements, upgrading Kingscote Airport and fast-tracking the deployment of the National Broadband Network (NBN).
Holden confirmed its intentions to end its local operations – based in both South Australia and Victoria – in December, following Ford’s announcement in May that it will end its own local vehicle production in October 2016.