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by Tim Beissmann

Senior ministers reportedly believe Holden will end its manufacturing operations within three or four years regardless of whether the Federal Government offers it financial assistance for the future.

The Fairfax report says the ministers’ perceived view of Holden’s supposed planned exit has created divisions within the government, with some opposed to giving the embattled car maker further funding.

One minister reportedly revealed Holden is pushing the government for “in excess of $200 million” per year from 2015 after the expiry of the current funding agreement, flaming further resistance among economic decision-makers.

Holden today refused to comment on the report, offering only that it is “continuing talks with the government and won’t speculate on any deadlines or future production plans”.

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Comments from former industry minister Kim Carr flamed the fire yesterday, with the influential figure calling on the government to reach a co-investment deal with Holden before the release of the Productivity Commission’s preliminary report on December 20.

Carr said inactivity from the government before Holden parent company General Motors’ board meeting in Detroit next month could prove fatal for the local car maker.

“It may well be that as soon as the December meeting, a decision is taken to actually wind down manufacturing facilities in this country,” Carr said.

The decision of Holden chairman and managing director Mike Devereux to leave the company at the end of this year for a new role in China has also reportedly made some ministers sceptical of the car maker’s commitment to Australian manufacturing.

The news comes just hours after Toyota Australia announced that it is taking “urgent action” in seeking a variation of the terms and conditions of its workplace agreement in its attempts to cut $3800 from the cost of every car it builds to increase its global competitiveness and improve the long-term viability of its local operations.

Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union assistant federal secretary David Smith told CarAdvice yesterday Toyota has expressed it would be tough for it to continue building cars in Australia if Holden ceased production, insisting that government support is the key to the industry’s future.

“We did speak to [Toyota] about what happens if Holden left. They’ve indicated that if that was the case they would probably find it very difficult to continue to operate in this country,” Smith said.

“But certainly they’ve made it quite clear that if there wasn’t government support available like there is in every other country in the world that has a vehicle manufacturing industry that would lead to the closure.”




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