A LOCAL MP is calling on the Federal Government to fill the north’s employment gap left by the closure of Elizabeth’s Holden plant in 2017.
Last week’s news parent company General Motors (GM) would end the Holden brand by 2021, leaving 600 Australians out of a job, again sparked local long-term employment concerns.
Federal Member for Spence Nick Champion urged the Liberal government to “play an active role” in terms of jobs post Holden.
“Where other cities have had big structural change like Newcastle when the steelworks closed or Geelong when it lost Ford, Geelong got the headquarters of the NDIS and Newcastle got CSIRO,” he said.
“In these examples the Commonwealth Government put in agencies that offer a lot of white collar jobs.
“When the Elizabeth plant closed the government didn’t put anything in that was structurally going to be there for the next 20 years and provide economic growth.
“I feel there is plenty of scope in defence where there could be new government departments put into the Elizabeth CBD that might provide a tempo of employment, of workers shopping locally and incomes in the area that would help the (Playford) Council with its plans.”
SA Labor leader Peter Malinauskas said the plant closure’s impact “still hurt” many South Australians.
“On one hand it is history, but it is still fresh and it still hurts because that was a decision that didn’t need to be taken,” he said.
“Every other automotive manufacturing industry around the world has government subsidies and here we had a conservative side of politics removing a contribution to an industry that employed thousands of people.
“When I hear the conservative side of politics say we shouldn’t be using taxpayer funds to provide support when everywhere else does it irritates me, especially when they say wages were too high, when they are just as high in Germany.
“It’s a flawed argument that is part of an old way of economic thinking that leaves so many middle class families left behind in a way that hurts the economy and the state as a whole.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison reacted angrily to last Monday’s Holden announcement.
“Australian taxpayers put millions into this multinational company,” he said during a press conference.
“They let the brand just wither away on their watch. Now they are leaving it behind. I think that’s very disappointing, that, over many years, more than $2 billion was directly provided to General Motors for the Holden operations.”
Holden on to history
THE State Opposition party last week wrote to federal arts minister Paul Fletcher to intervene and stop Holden from removing any historical artefacts and archival material from Australia.
The National Motor Museum exhibition replicates six assembly-line stations from GM Holden’s Elizabeth Plant, suspended from the museum’s ceiling demonstrating the different stages of construction.
“Holden is ingrained in Australian history, the loss of this heritage to the USA would be another massive blow to those who have supported Holden over decades,” SA Labor leader Peter Malinauskas said.
Member for Elizabeth Lee Odenwalder similarly urged the Federal Government to avoid seeing more than 50 years of history shipped off to the United States.
“Like so many people who grew up in Elizabeth, many of my family and friends – including my father – worked at Holden at some stage in their working lives,” he said.
“No one in my community was untouched by its presence in Elizabeth.
“The closure of the Elizabeth manufacturing plant in 2017 was a devastating blow, economically and psychologically, for the people of Elizabeth, and Adelaide’s northern suburbs more generally.
“Let’s not see more than 50 years of history shipped off.”