Support us and support 200,000 jobs: Toyota, Holden and Ford to government

The three car makers operating in Australia, Holden, Toyota and Ford, have defended the level of government assistance they receive and said that their sector helps employ a huge number of local jobs.

News Limited reports that Mike Devereux, Holden Australia’s chairman, has hit out at claims that the company has had to enforce redundancies lately because nobody wants to buy the Holden Cruze.

"I'm going to say a word here — you can print it — it pisses me off when people say that because it is factually, blatantly, irresponsibly untrue," he told News.

"There are 180 passengers car, only three sell better than the Cruze."

The level of government support given to Holden has been a topic of debate lately, after Devereux revealed earlier in April that the car maker had received over $2 billion in support over the last 12 years and then announced 500 job cuts shortly after this.

The three car manufacturers in Australia employ 17,000 people directly, with the total automotive industry creating 55,000 jobs (with 200,000 jobs supported indirectly).

The chief operating officer of Toyota Australia, the best seller of the three, threatened that Toyota would go elsewhere if Australians didn’t support his employer.

"There's a whole host of countries around the world vying for Toyota's investment or investment from other companies," David Buttner said.

The level of support by taxpayers is expected to be a point of debate between the federal government and Coalition opposition leading up to the election, with industry minister Greg Combet claiming the opposition would destroy automotive industry jobs if elected.

The opposition has announced that it would find $500 million in savings from automotive subsidies and refer support to the Productivity Commission.

Car manufacturers have defended levels of support as comparatively weak.

"If you look at Australia the support here is a little bit less than $18 per person compared to significantly higher amounts in other countries around the world,” said Bob Graziano from Ford Australia.

"Without that assistance, it would be difficult to see the industry surviving."