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Weatherill reaction "a little odd": Abbott

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Prime Minister Tony Abbott today called Premier Jay Weatherill’s reaction to Commonwealth funding for economic readjustment projects in a post-Holden environment as “a little odd”.

Weatherill slammed the package yesterday, saying Abbott did not appear to understand the urgency or the enormity of the Holden closure.

The $100 million investment fund will be jointly funded: $60 million from the Commonwealth Government, $12 million from the Victorian State Government, a yet-to-be-agreed “similar amount” from the South Australian Government and $20 million from GM Holden.

“For the Premier to say it’s inadequate sounds a little odd,” Abbott told FIVEaa radio today.

“In 2008 when Mitsubishi closed the Commonwealth gave $35 million and SA gave $10 million. In 2013 when Ford decided to close the Commonwealth gave $35 million and the Victorian Government gave $11 million.

“Yesterday, the Commonwealth gave $60 million, Victoria, $12 million and SA gave nothing, absolutely nothing.

“So to say it’s not enough, is a little odd.”

The PM said the money was not a subsidy to Holden.

“This money is not to rescue Holden; the money is to help people and the region to adjust.

“It will be available for research and development, for feasibility studies for new businesses to help foster jobs in the future.

“We are aiming for a transition from a good job to a better job.”

Abbott repeated his statement yesterday that the time for corporate welfare has ended.

‘I don’t support business welfare.

“It’s not the government’s job to offer handouts, but to make sure they operate in a good economic environment.”

The Australian reported today that Federal Cabinet had rejected subsidy proposals from fruit processor SPC Ardmona and Qantas.

Weatherill held a meeting at lunch time today with his recently appointed “automotive transformation coordinator” Greg Combet, SA  Manufacturing Minister Tom Kenyon and his Victorian counterpart David Hodgett, and 20 representatives of auto components makers.

After the meeting, Combet said the Federal Government’s rescue package was inadequate.

Combet said the $100 million fund would need to cover assistance to workers to find new jobs, help auto suppliers to diversify and also support businesses to gain access to global supply chains.

“All of these things are going to take a considerable amount of money,” he said.

“Given the circumstances that we’re confronting and the extent of support that’s going to be needed, I think we’re going to have to commit more to it.”

The fund will include a contribution from Holden following its decision last week to quit local production by the end of 2017.

The company says it is yet to determine how much it will provide despite Abbott asking for about $20 million.

Spokesman George Svigos says Holden is also yet to make decisions on when to start winding down production at its assembly plant in Adelaide and engine plant in Melbourne.

He says the the company still has thousands of cars to build before it shuts the doors on its manufacturing operations.

– with AAP

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