Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane says the federal government will do all it can to support car manufacturer Holden, but has added he doesn’t have a “pocket full of money”.
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has written to Prime Minister Tony Abbott pleading for him to commit to a $275 million co-investment package for the car maker.
If Holden doesn’t have an answer by Christmas, it will cease manufacturing cars in Australia, he has warned.
The $275 million package was negotiated with the former Gillard government to ensure Holden continues local manufacturing until 2022.
But with the coalition pledging to cut $500 million annually from car industry funding to 2015, the car maker is concerned about the future of federal subsidies.
Mr Macfarlane says “we’re going to do all we can” for Holden and plans to visit its plant in Adelaide at the beginning of October.
But when asked about the coalition’s policy of removing $500 million in car industry funding, he said there were “massive more issues than the $500 million”.
“I know money is important but … we’ve put a lot of money into that industry,” he told ABC Radio.
“If everyone wants to be flexible, I’ll be flexible (but) I haven’t got a pocket full of money.
“I’m not able to say what will happen until I actually get down there and have a look.”
Mr Weatherill said Holden needed a commitment “as soon as possible”.
Under the $275 million funding package, Canberra will contribute $215 million, South Australia $50 million and Victoria $10 million.
“They’re (Holden) making decisions about a billion dollars worth of investment in two new models which will secure the future of the plant for another ten years,” Mr Weatherill told ABC Radio.
“They need to know that they have a commonwealth partner and a indeed a state partner.”
Victorian Premier Denis Napthine said Holden had not raised the possibility of ceasing manufacturing in Australia by Christmas with his government.
“Holden have had no discussions with us,” he told reporters.
“Our discussions with Holden in more recent times have been positive, productive and involving partnerships for growth and development of jobs.
“We’ll be working with the car industry as we have in the two-and-a-half years we’ve been in office.
“We’ll continue to work with the federal government of the day to make sure that we have an ongoing manufacturing industry and the car industry and the car component industry is important to Victoria.”
Dr Napthine says the government has ongoing commitments with a number of car manufacturers and the government is working with car and components manufacturers to get value for money for taxpayers to secure the future of the industry.