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Simms to propose $800 million green car 'jobs' scheme


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South Australia’s automative industry would receive part of a green-tinged $800 million funding package if a former Adelaide City councillor has his way.

New SA Greens Senator Robert Simms will propose a Green Car Transformation Scheme to directly subsidise environmentally friendly automotive industries as his first Bill when the Senate returns next month.

The proposal would be similar to Kevin Rudd’s $1.3 billion Green Car Innovation Fund, which was scrapped in 2011 to boost the Federal Government’s response to the Queensland floods.

Simms told InDaily the fund would help curb the impact of the closure of Holden car manufacturing on employment South Australia.

“We’ve got record unemployment rate here – almost 8 per cent – the highest in the nation and we’ve got huge skills in our manufacturing industry and we need to be looking at how we can harness those,” Simms said.

“(The fund) would provide assistance to manufacturers operating here in South Australia, and Victoria, and it would be oriented towards those that take on employees that work in existing manufacturing, and also the associated industries.

“The intention behind it is really to assist with transition and to ensure that there are sustainable jobs into the future.”

Holden's Elizabeth plant will shut in 2017.

Holden’s Elizabeth plant will shut in 2017.

The subsidies would be taken from unspent reserves within the Automotive Transformation Scheme – money that wasn’t spend because of the slow down in Holden’s car manufacturing operations, which are panned to close in 2017.

“I’m going to be proposing is that we redirect that $800 million to this Green Car Transformation Scheme, which would … prioritise funding for companies that are investing in manufacturing cars or automotive components for sustainable transport options – basically to make green cars,” Simms said.

“We’d support any major vehicle producers which were established and investing in South Australia or Victoria.

“The purpose would be to focus assistance on auto part makers that are part of a global or a local supply chain for electric, hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles.”

He conceded that Australia has no major electric car manufacturing operations, but cited modelling that electric car making would be a $500 billion global business by 2025, and “South Australia should get a piece of the action”.

Simms said he had not raised the proposal with his Labor, Coalition or Senate cross-bench colleagues, but hoped the plan would attract support from the newly minted Turnbull Government.

“We’ve got Christopher Pyne here as the Minister for Innovation in the new Turnbull Government and I hope he will champion this,” he said.

“I am hoping that the new government will adopt a more supportive approach to jobs in South Australia.”

The Bill is in draft form and will be presented to the Senate next month.

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