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Weatherill releases $60m jobs plan

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Premier Jay Weatherill has released a six-part $60 million jobs plan to offset the departure of car maker Holden in 2017 – and made a plea for $333 million from the Federal Government to make it work.

The plan – to be funded over four years – includes retraining, support and counselling services “to address the uncertainty created by GM Holden’s announcement”, the Premier said today.

General Motors announced last month it would cease car making at Holden’s Elizabeth plant from early 2017.

The $60 million plan replicates previous commitments to industry diversification outlined in the $42 million 2012 Automotive New Markets Program and the $47 million Structural Adjustment Fund rolled out to fund new businesses after the closure of Mitsubishi in 2006.

“Our plan will support the transition of automotive supply businesses into new markets, through an automotive diversification assistance package and related support,” he said.

“(It will) speed up growth in existing businesses and pursue new opportunities in the key sectors of defence, resources and energy, premium food and wine, health and biomedical, education and business services, tourism, and creative industries, through a new jobs acceleration fund and support for entrepreneurs.”

Added to the industry assistance packages is a plan to “accelerate significant infrastructure projects to create jobs during the transition”.

“The State Government has committed $60 million to this plan for jobs.

“The State Government requests that the Australian Government commit $333 million to the plan.”

Former federal Labour Minister Greg Combet, appointed by the Premier to oversee the jobs plan, said he’s already started the ball rolling.

“I’ve already started discussions with the business community in SA about these issues,” Combet said.

“We are going to be working with the companies in the supply chain to enable them to diversify their businesses.

“I’ve started the dialogue. There’ll be a lot more work to go of course in the months ahead.

“But many of these businesses are quite imaginative, quite innovative, and quite capable of working out alternate business plans.”

Combet said the “best” component manufacturers will attempt to keep working with Holden and find a spot in their global supply chain.

Economic Development Board head Raymond Spencer said that the best prospects for job creation lay with current businesses and access to capital, rather than hand outs for new ventures.

“A key part of the issues faced by businesses in South Australia is access to capital,” Spencer said.

“There’s a lot of talk about start-up and certainly we want to continue the many good programs that exist in the state … but the real opportunity to create jobs in the next four years is by scaling up of the businesses that are already out there.

“This (fund) is not a handout. This is a revolving loan fund that will be made available to businesses that show the initiative to grow. Bendigo and Adelaide Bank have agreed to partner with the fund by allocating $200 million for business loans.”

“We know that we will only flourish here if Adelaide industry flourishes as well,” the bank’s Robert Johanson said.

“We have ‘pencilled’ $200 million in loans to support the fund. The fund is designed to leverage commercial loans.”

Weatherill said he was confident the Commonwealth Government would also play its part.

“We’re going to get cracking on this plan with or without them.

“We’re confident the federal government will come on board.

“This is a genuine attempt by not just the South Australian government but by a broad cross section of the South Australian community. We are asking for a modest contribution.”

The total cost of the funding commitment replaces that promised by both governments in March 2012 when Holden was promised $275 million if it committed to making cars until 2022.

Of that $275 million, $50 million was to come from the State Government and $225 million from the Commonwealth.

The jobs plan lists a range of infrastructure projects the State Government wants advanced, including:

– additional reporting by Liam Mannix

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