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Deadline looms for car industry Holden

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    "2013 will be a year that Australia decides whether it wants to have an auto industry".

Next year will be when Australia decides whether it wants an auto industry or not....

The future of local car manufacturing may hinge on next year’s federal election, according to GM Holden’s managing director Mike Devereux. Holden has committed to investing $1 billion to continue building cars until 2022 but Devereux said yesterday that investment is dependent on federal policies that support co-investment by local carmakers.

The Liberal-National coalition have questioned the rationale of government investment -- which they describe as support -- for the three local auto brands: Holden, Ford and Toyota.

Devereux said he wasn’t advocating any political party but Holden’s parent company, GM, needed certainly to continue investing. “I just want to sell cars, I don’t want to be part of the political debate in this country,” he noted. “In a business sense … I need to understand very clearly in a forward looking sense what each party’s policy is on auto manufacturing. Are they committed to making things in this country?

“I don’t know what the (Coalition) position is … but we need an intelligent approach to bipartisan policy. If this becomes a ‘he said/she said’ thing -- literally -- it is going to be very difficult. Whatever one says the other refutes … we need to move beyond the political rhetoric.”

Devereux cited the UK, where pro-active government policies have resulted in $10 billion of auto investment in the past two years, and the US election campaign, where Barak Obama championed his bailout of the carmakers, as examples where the automotive industry assumes national importance.

“In the United States the issue of making things in the USA and the auto industry was certainly a large factor in the re-election of President Barack Obama. It became an election issue, it was front and centre,” he said.

“2013 will be the year that Australia decides whether it wants an auto industry or not,” he said. “My hope is the auto industry is not an election issue, it is a bipartisan issue. Either way there needs to be another broad-based review (of the industry).”

Devereux said building cars in Australia was among the most expensive places in the world for GM. “Walking away (from local production) is easier for GM. The right thing for our brand is to make things in this country.”

"We are not doing that to be nice to this country, we are doing it because it is the best thing for our brand and our business in this country. That is why we want to make things here. I think it also happens to be good for the country.”

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 11 comments

  • Its Tonny Abbotts fault

    Juliar Gillard Posted on 30 November 2012 4:06pm
  • The PM needs to stand up and say: 'we support Australian manufacturing and engineering and want to protect it and our jobs here'

    Dave S Posted on 29 November 2012 9:03am
  • Poff you are a tosser aussie cars are as good if not better than most i have sold cars for 30yrs we need this industry here not only for our economy but for national pride all products have imported components and we export same! Davo

    Davo Posted on 29 November 2012 8:28am
  • If GM Holden built the cars the public wants to buy, they wouldn't need bailouts.

    K Clark of Adelaide Posted on 28 November 2012 8:26pm
  • The industry just has to open its mouth and the government opens the bin and gives them OUR money. The industry is inefficient and produces cars that arn't wanted, so the sooner they close the doors the better!

    Greg McKenzie of Brisbane Posted on 28 November 2012 8:10pm
  • Well what you said was right @POff. GM Asian rubbish should come to end. I be very heard Broken if our Holden dies.

    Joe Lovestick Posted on 28 November 2012 6:53pm
  • Mr Devereux is looking for another handout, and please note that the handout is just not from the Government, but out of OUR taxpayers' pockets. This would enable Holden (like Ford) to continue to build cars that people will not buy. How long must we continue to support an industry that isn't growing or likely to grow. Maybe we should cut our loses, put the billions in 'would-be handouts' into developing jobs in other industries for those car industry workers who lose their jobs (it can be done), and stop giving GM and Ford handouts. Tariffs, what a great idea. Not! You place tariffs on imported cars and make them dearer, and guess what, the Australian cars will suddenly rise in price almost overnight. How surprising. Tariffs generally protect inefficient local industries. Let's face it, if any other local industry failed to read the future market and continued to build something they couldn't sell, they would be out the back door 'quick smart' with no Government assistance, Overall, this article smacks of Devereux (on behalf of GM) threatening the major political parties to promise more handouts. GM and Ford, build what we want and we will likely buy it.

    Mike O'Connor of Canberra Posted on 28 November 2012 6:50pm
  • I'm not sure what POff of Brisbane is suggesting about assembling Chinese/Korean rubbish here. Holden builds two vehicles in Australia - the totally Australian designed and engineered Commodore and the significantly Australian designed and engineered Cruze which is a truly global marque, being built in twenty-odd plants around the world.

    Footyfield of Sydney Posted on 28 November 2012 5:45pm
  • I think Mike Devereux is right that the politicians need to tell us their policies without the he said/she said thing, because this is peoples lives and the Australian economy they are playing with.We are all getting sick of slanging matches in Parliament that waste time and money but achieve very little else.These auto companies invest billions of dollars to make cars and its about time the government gives them and other manufacturers some protection/assistants so we will still have jobs for Australians.It won't matter how cheap imported goods are if we don't have wages for us to spend how will we survive.The politicians don't seem to care what the average person earns so long as they get recognition for their work.They have to help our manufacturing industries produce cheaper goods for export and local consumption.Why do we have a free trade agreement with Thailand and import thousands of cars a year but we can't export Ford Territorys to Thailand without penalties which made it only viable for 100 to be exported?

    David Miller of Albany Creek Posted on 28 November 2012 2:22pm
  • This is a far more logical and well presented article than that appearing under 'State News". It is clear that Mr Devereux is tryign to get clarity of statement from both sides of Politics so he can plan for the futire and try to manage GMH as well as he can. Given Politicians actively try not to commit to anything and automatically disagree with the 'other Party" the needs of long-term business planners and Politicians are opposites. I'm also a bit worried about the local Auto industry as ( realistically) GMH are based in SA, they are the most exposed to local market conditions ( Producing a car for Aussie conditions) and the either political party can still win the election without SA. ie - Would the Auto 'subsidies' buy more votes if applied to something else in NSW perhaps ? Business may plan and run to a Profit, but Politicians only plan/run to win elections. I know who I'd rather trust.

    Dog Who Knows No Fear of Adelaide, SA. Posted on 28 November 2012 1:36pm
  • GM need to stop assembling chinese/korean rubbish here and trying to pass it off as Australian. Old rule of thumb, $hit in equals $hit out.

    POff of Brisbane Posted on 27 November 2012 11:23pm
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