New Federal Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane, has toured Holden's South Australian plant this week as part of talks to secure the carmaker's local manufacturing operations.
Mr Macfarlane met with Holden Managing Director Mike Devereux, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill and the state's Opposition Leader Steven Marshall to discuss future funding, ahead of a looming state election.
The Industry Minister said that there would be no immediate decision on federal funding for Holden, although he confirmed that the next round of assistance will likely be the last.
Mr Macfarlane said it his goal to wean local automotive manufacturing off taxpayer assistance, and asked that Holden's parent company General Motors remain patient as discussions continue.
"I'm certainly not going to spray taxpayers' money around today. What happens in the future, as I say, I have to work with the Premier and come up with a solution and get it through my Cabinet," Mr Macfarlane said.
He acknowledged that time is running out for an agreement to be reached on funding, as Holden weighs its future beyond 2016, and its stalled $1 billion investment in two new locally produced models.
The future of that investment could hang on the findings of a Productivity Commission review of the industry, although it is expected that the Federal Government will ask Holden to commit to a high-volume export program in order for further funding assistance to be approved.
The lead-up to last month's federal election saw the Coalition promise a $500 million cut in automotive industry funding, although it has since promised one last-ditch effort to keep local manufacturing alive.
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said yesterday he is convinced of Mr Macfarlane's commitment to securing an agreement, and his comments were echoed by Independent Senator Nick Xenophon.
"From the language that I've gathered from Ian Macfarlane he wants to get a practical solution here to secure the jobs not just of the 16,000 South Australians that rely on Holden surviving in South Australia, but the tens of thousands more jobs that would inevitably go if Holden leaves," he said.
Mr Macfarlane will meet with Toyota and Ford in Melbourne next week to seek further input on the future of the local industry.
Ford confirmed earlier this year it will exit Australian manufacturing in 2016, although it intends to maintain a significant research and development facility here.
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