WITH General Motors Holden (GMH) announcing its intention to cease production at its Elizabeth facility in 2017, work has begun to accommodate thousands of workers to be displaced in the near future.
Premier Jay Weatherill continues to fight for more Commonwealth government support for economic initiatives in the state following GMH’s announcement earlier in December
It is a move backed by the Wakefield Group of councils, made up of councils within the Wakefield electorate, including District Council of Mallala and the Federal MP for Wakefield.
Wakefield Group executive officer, Terry Bell, said there was no doubt the departure of GMH would be felt throughout the region.
“We are concerned by the closure of the Holden plant and the timing of it,” Mr Bell said.
“The economy of the area and its employment base will be hit hard by the changes.
“ T h a t said, we do believe we have some significant projects in the pipeline as far as the north is concerned.”
Mr Bell felt it was vital the blame game ended and planning for the future began.
“We’ve had the politicians fighting over who said what but the Wakefield Group doesn’t look at it that way,” he said.
“We’re keen to push all these great projects along, that’s how we roll.”
Wakefield Federal MP, Nick Champion, said the Wakefield Group was already working to advance substantial projects that had enormous potential to build economic activity and create as many as 5000 jobs in the northern region of Adelaide. These included the Gawler Water Reuse Scheme, which had the potential to link with the proposed Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme, to provide an enormous water resource that could support a hugely increased food production sector.
The Gawler Water Reuse Scheme, which will initially provide 1.2 gigalitres of water to urban and rural users in and around the existing Greater Gawler area, has the potential to grow to about 20GL by 2040.
The as yet unfunded Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme, which would cost an estimated $33 million and provide a further 12GL of water for irrigation, would create a total of 2400 new jobs in construction and maintenance, and in the agribusiness activities it would support.
Other initiatives strongly supported by the Wakefield Group include electrification of the Adelaide to Gawler railway.
This long-awaited upgrade, which had been due to start by the end of 2013 and be completed in 2015, was put on hold following the withdrawal of Commonwealth government support of $76 million in October.
The Wakefield Group also believes the existing Adelaide to Gawler line should be extended to facilitate new industrial and residential expansion at Roseworthy as part of the Roseworthy Economic Hub development.
This rail line extension is estimated to cost around $30 million and is regarded as part of the essential infrastructure required for what is proposed to become South Australia’s biggest urban development project with a population of up to 100,000.
Further transformative and job creating projects supported by the Wakefield Group include proposals by the City of Playford for a 50ha sports precinct, costing up to $50 million.
The development of a major health precinct, as well as the possibility to expand the role of the Commonwealth-funded Stretton Centre as a major opportunity to co-ordinate employment growth in the northern region of Adelaide, were also on the table.
“We’re very well set up in terms of the facilities we have on offer in the area for retraining,” Mr Bell said.
Council will work to help find alternative jobs
THE exact impact to residents in the District Council of Mallala area from General Motors Holden (GMH) ceasing production at its Elizabeth plant by 2017 is relatively unknown.
DCM chief executive officer, Charles Mansueto, said he was aware a number of workers travelled to Elizabeth from the area for work and said it would undoubtedly have some impact.
In 2011, 682 people (17 per cent of DCMs population) were employed as technicians and trade workers, while 600 (15 per cent) were labourers, indicating at least some of those residents would have worked for GMH or satellite businesses.
Council would be working with neighbouring local government entities to develop alternative employment options.
“We do look at strategies to promote more economic opportunities,” Mr Mansueto said.
“The horticulture industry is one that has had increased economic development in the area.”