South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill says the promotion of Holden chairman and managing director Mike Devereux to a new role with General Motors in China leaves the local automotive manufacturing industry in a "very dangerous situation".
Weatherill says Devereux's decision to leave Holden at the end of the year to assume the role of GM consolidated international operations sales marketing and aftersales vice president places negotiations between the government and the car maker in a precarious position.
“For every day that the Federal Government delays in responding to Holden’s proposition about co-investing in the future of this plant, we are getting a day closer to closure,” Weatherill told ABC News.
“Every day that the Federal Government waits, every day that they insist on this $500 million cut and will not commit to the co-investment package means that we have thousands and thousands of jobs in jeopardy in this state.”
The Coalition committed to cutting $500 million in automotive industry funding ahead of last month’s federal election, and is now waiting on the results of an interim report by the Productivity Commission before making decisions on its future support.
South Australian Opposition Leader Steven Marshall believes Devereux’s decision to leave Holden is a “bad indication of where the negotiations are going”, but trusts the Federal Government to develop a positive plan for the future.
“I’m absolutely completely supportive of [Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane's] approach, which is to send it to the Productivity Commission, ask for an urgent report to be made,” Marshall said.
“What we need in South Australia is a plan, not just cash every time there is an emergency.”
The outspoken Devereux has been a persistent campaigner for additional government support for Australia’s automotive manufacturers since assuming the lead role in 2010. He became a prominent figure in the lead up to this year’s federal election, and in March 2012 was central to the negotiation of a $275 million co-investment package designed to help Holden produce next-generation versions of the Commodore and Cruze and (at the time) shore up its local manufacturing future until 2022.
Holden will name a replacement for Devereux before the end of the year, likely in December.