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by Tim Beissmann

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane says Australia’s car makers are facing “one hell of a challenge” but is confident they have a long-term future.

Macfarlane, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill and Holden chairman and managing director Mike Devereux today toured the car maker’s Elizabeth production plant, marking the beginning of negotiations designed to secure the future of the Holden and Australia’s automotive manufacturing industry.

Holden is reportedly looking to secure around $500 million before committing to continue building cars in Australia beyond its current agreement that ends in 2016, upping its demands from last year when it was promised $275 million from the Federal, South Australian and Victorian governments.

Macfarlane admitted he was not sure where money for additional funding would come from and suggested it may take some time to reach a resolution.

“This is one hell of a challenge,” Macfarlane told reporters. “One hell of a solution is required. There will be one shot at this.

“I’m certainly not going to spray taxpayers’ money around today. What happens in the future … I have to work with the Premier and come up with a solution and get it through my Cabinet.”

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Macfarlane said the government intended to stand by its plan to cut $500 million in assistance for Australia’s automotive manufacturers, insisting that “it won’t break the car industry”.

“I’m confident I can get around that,” he said.

“I’m not concerned about the next six months, I’m not concerned about the next three years. My goal is to see Australian cars built here for 100 years.”

Declining to divulge the level of assistance his company required, Devereux said the discussions with the government were likely to be ongoing, with no potential end date proposed.




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