New federal industry minister Ian Macfarlane and SA premier Jay Weatherill are visiting GM Holden’s Elizabeth plant for a tour and a meeting with the car maker.
News Limited Network reports that there was to be a two-hour inspection of the plant, followed by a two-hour meeting, with Macfarlane and Weatherill to be joined by politicians from both sides.
Fairfax reports that, “Independent senator Nick Xenophon and possibly former Labor industry minister Greg Combet will be among those in attendance for the tour and subsequent sit-down discussions.” Discussions will include Holden’s managing director Mike Devereux.
Macfarlane told the ABC this morning that the government – which had repeated its pledge to reduce automotive funding by half a billion dollars during the election campaign – would not be eagerly handing over more assistance to the troubled car maker.
"I'm certainly not going to spray taxpayers' money around today,” he said.
“What happens in the future, as I say, I have to work with the Premier and come up with a solution and get it through my Cabinet.
"We all know what the economics are, so this is a journey and today is the first step."
This will be the first visit made by the federal MP since 2007, when he was industry minister in the Howard government.
The AMWU’s John Camillo, who helped negotiate an agreement by Holden workers to things such as a three-year wage freeze in August – helping the car maker stay viable – said that workers wanted to know they had job security.
''You have 1700 Holden workers in the component sector worrying day in, day out on whether there's a future for them beyond 2016,'' he told Fairfax.
'The final straw now is waiting on the government to make that decision: are they going to put that additional money in for a 10-year co-investment plan?''
Holden had agreed in March last year – in exchange for $275 million in assistance in state and federal assistance – to continue making cars in Australia up to 2022.
However, the car company has said that conditions have changed “dramatically” since the agreement, with Ford announcing it would cease making cars in 2016, and more assistance would be needed.