Wimmera leaders' offer for Holden workers

Holden timeline: A drive down memory lane

WIMMERA leaders have offered a welcome mat to Holden workers facing unemployment.

They say the region has a shortage of skilled mechanics and engineers.

General Motors announced on Tuesday it would discontinue vehicle and engine manufacturing in Australia by the end of 2017.

Its decision will result in the loss of 2900 jobs, including 1300 in Victoria.

The first Holden | Photos

Wimmera Development Association executive director Jo Bourke does not believe the closure will have much of an initial impact on the region’s businesses and manufacturers.

“It’s going to affect the whole economy, but the ripple effect will not be known for a while,” she said.

Mrs Bourke said the association would consider how it could assist some of the sacked workers to find employment in the Wimmera.

“This region has some difficulty attracting people such as diesel mechanics and people with engineering skills,” she said.

“Perhaps we need to look at how we could approach these people and attract them to the region.”

Member for Lowan Hugh Delahunty said the government needed to assist the Holden staff to find new employment.

“I feel for the staff and their families who have been affected by the decision,” he said.

“It won’t have the direct impact in the Wimmera it will have in the north part of Adelaide, but even one person affected is bad enough.”

He hopes that for some workers, it might be a case of one door closing and another opening.

“We might be able to attract some of these people to come and live in the Wimmera,” he said.

Mr Delahunty said this would not only help with the skills shortage, but could also have a positive impact on schools, sporting clubs and community groups.

He said the government could look at ways to upskill workers.

“From the Victorian point of view, we have created more jobs in the past year than any other state,” he said.

“The State Government is strong. We’re in a strong financial position, we have a AAA credit rating and there are a lot of other businesses being established in Victoria.”

While the Wimmera waits for the fall-out, it is business as usual for Horsham Holden dealer Wilson Bolton and Co.

Dealer principal Brian Thomas said there were still plenty of products in the Holden range.

“Holden will be importers and we will have a full range of Holden products to sell,” he said.

“I am concerned about not having an Australian-made product, but I am not concerned about the future of our franchise.”

Global textiles manufacturer for the motoring industry, Aunde – which has a branch in Stawell – could not be reached for comment.

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