By Paul Hemsley
After retiring from politics at the September 2013 federal election, former Minister for Industry and Innovation Greg Combet has found a new role right up his alley mitigating the predicted fallout from the planned closure of General Motors Holden’s factory doors in South Australia by 2017.
As the South Australian government continues to berate the the Abbott government for “turning its back” on Holden – which has been heavily dependent on government subsidies to stay open – Premier Jay Weatherill has tapped Mr Combet to lead the state’s long road to recovery in its now volatile manufacturing sector.
With Holden’s controversial decision to up stumps certain to hit the state’s economy, Mr Combet will take on the title of South Australia’s Automotive Transformation Coordinator where he will face the tough duty of coordinating assistance provided to automotive industry workers and automotive suppliers.
According to Mr Weatherill, Mr Combet will be initially supported by the Advanced Manufacturing Taskforce, which was established in March 2012 to oversee the South Australian economy’s shift from traditional manufacturing to so-called “advanced” manufacturing.
“Mr Combet has significant experience with the auto manufacturing industry as a former Minister and has a constructive relationship with the Federal Government,” Mr Weatherill said.
Mr Weatherill said the state government has established a series of initiatives to assist workers and to begin work on the “transformation” of South Australia’s manufacturing industry.
He said he has spoken to Economic Development Board chair Raymond Spencer about its “leading efforts” to attract new industries to South Australia and he will meet with SA’s auto component suppliers this Thursday to discuss the government’s future plans.
Mr Weatherill also cited the state’s existing ten-year Manufacturing Works strategy will be accelerated to four years to coincide with Holden’s planned exit.
The government created the Manufacturing Works strategy in October 2012 to help shift the state’s manufacturing to “high value-added activities” and support manufacturers in an “increasingly competitive global market”.
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