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Feds increase car industry package

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A fund to help Victorian and South Australian industry navigate the planned exit of the major car makers has been increased to $155 million.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the increased fund on Wednesday, saying it now included matching $12 million contributions from the Victorian and South Australian governments.

The car makers have also made a contribution to the fund, which was originally set at $100 million.

“This $155 million growth fund will include money for skills recognition, money for employment services, money to help businesses transition to new markets,” Abbott told reporters in Geelong.

“There will also be funding for businesses which are seeking to innovate and some limited funding for local infrastructure.

“The objective as always is to maximise prosperity, maximise employment, to build on the inherent creativity of businesses … (and) it’s about helping workers to go from good jobs to better jobs.”

The original package was announced in December before Toyota signalled it would join Holden and wind down its Australian manufacturing operations.

Abbott also said he wanted to acknowledge the “good citizenship” of the car makers for making a contribution to the fund, which would help affected parts of Victoria and South Australia to deal with the impending closures of the motor industry in the years ahead.

The prime minister spoke to reporters after touring the South Geelong factory of Backwell IXL, maker of the IXL range of bathroom heaters.

South Australian Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said the federal government had realised that its initial investment was “insignificant” and the increased funds were welcome.

But he said the state government still wanted to know exactly how much money would be allocated SA and wanted to ensure all the funds were allocated to the two states most affected – South Australia and Victoria.

“I’m glad that they’ve increased their contribution,” Koutsantonis said.

“Now I want to understand exactly how that contribution will be spend and where it will be spent.”

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