Election year to decide future of auto industry: Holden boss

Mike Devereux, chairman of General Motors Holden, has said that the outcome of the next federal election would decide whether or not Australia continued to manufacture cars.

Mike Devereux, chairman of General Motors Holden, has said that the outcome of the next federal election would decide whether or not Australia continued to manufacture cars.

Devereux, speaking at the launch of the Colorado 7 off-roader, said that current levels of support, vital for keeping auto manufacturing viable in Australia, would be a debate topic in the next federal election campaign.

"I believe 2013 will be a year that Australia decides whether it wants to have an auto industry or not," said Devereux, in remarks reported by The Australian and others.

The GM Holden boss likened the upcoming federal election to the US presidential election, in which support for the auto sector was a factor in the political contest.Industry minister Greg Combet said that the election would be a “referendum on the future of automotive manufacturing”, according to the Australian Financial Review.

Opposition Treasurer Joe Hockey recently used redundancies at Ford to claim that the current levels of support from the government were not effective.

The opposition has not released a policy on auto manufacturing, but has stated that it believes current levels of support are excessive. Opposition industry spokeswoman Sophie Mirabella said that a policy would be released “in good time”, but a review of the industry, which Devereux has suggested, was needed.

"I am very pleased to hear that Mr Devereux supports an independent review of car industry funding in Australia," said Mirabella in a statement.

“A Productivity Commission review into the car industry, a review that is Coalition policy, was scheduled for 2008 but then abandoned by Labor.”