SA Premier Warns Of Holden Deadline On Government Commitment Photo:
TMR Team | Sep, 19 2013 | 7 Comments

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has warned of the urgent need for clarity on the new Federal Government's commitment to the nation's automotive manufacturing industry.

Mr Weatherill said that unless Prime Minister Tony Abbott commits to a funding boost before Christmas, Holden may close its Australian manufacturing operations within the next three years.

He added that if Holden were to exit Australia as a manufacturer, the impact on the industry would have "a knock-on effect for Toyota's local production and indeed the whole component manufacturing supply chain".

The South Australian Government has claimed that some 16,000 jobs would be lost in the state as a result of Holden's exit.

Holden, which last week laid off a number of white-collar workers, is in the process of deciding whether to continue with plans for investing in two new locally produced models, which would secure local production until around 2022.

The carmaker's American parent GM had previously decided to hold off on confirming a $1 billion investment in Australian production of the next-generation Commodore and Cruze until after the Federal Election held earlier this month.

"They need to know that they have a Commonwealth partner and indeed a state partner. We're certainly willing to make our contribution," Mr Weatherill said.

"The workforce has made its contribution by agreeing to very substantial wage restraint, so really it is over to the Commonwealth Government to see what contribution they're prepared to make to secure the future of Holden."

Mr Weatherill's comments come after the Coalition promised it would cut $500 million in car industry assistance if elected.

New Industry Minister Ian MacFarlane said there are more factors to consider than the promised cuts, and noted that earlier funding under his previous turn as Industry Minister is still helping the industry today.

"I gave the car industry $4.3 billion, that money is still there. It is still being used but then the green car fund came along and they changed that and then the confidence went and, of course, just to make it almost impossible for them the government of the day, Kevin Rudd, decided that it would hit the industry with a fringe benefits tax and that has decimated production because the cars started backing up in the showrooms, in the dealerships and look, we want to get the industry on an even keel," Mr MacFarlane told ABC News today.

Mr MacFarlane said that he is "on the side of the car industry", but said that with Australians drawn to imported models, Holden must produce models that buyers want.

"I know he's [Holden boss Mike Devereux] got something up his sleeve, I'm hoping he'll show me in the privacy of his office plans," Mr MacFarlane said, speaking of plans to visit Holden in October.

August sales figures saw Holden hang onto second place with 10,606 sales (down 5.9 percent), although the Commodore fell 15.4 percent with 2809 sales for the month.

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