The Federal Government has seized on reports that no amount of money would have been enough to persuade Holden to keep its local production bases in Australia.
Holden’s parent company General Motors has told media in the US its decision to stop making cars in Australia was not influenced by any Government incentives.
The head of international operations at General Motors, Stefan Jacoby, said he proposed closing the Australian operations and the final approval came from the board.
“Our business is driven by scale of economics, of productivity, of an efficient supplier industry … Australia is just too small in these scales,” News Corp Australia have quoted Mr Jacoby as saying.
“The decision was not made on any (government) incentives or any reduction of incentives.”
Mr Jacoby also said the decision to pull out of Australia was made after Holden chief executive Mike Devereux told the Productivity Commission the future of local manufacturing was still an open question.
Holden announced in December it would stop making cars at its Elizabeth and Port Melbourne sites, which employ almost 3,000 workers, by 2018.
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill accused the Coalition of not doing enough to keep the company in Australia after former prime minister Kevin Rudd pledged $500 million to the car industry before the Federal Election.
But Federal Government frontbencher Christopher Pyne says Holden’s admission shows Mr Weatherill has lost credibility in the lead up to the South Australian election in March.
“Jay Weatherill’s election strategy is completely in tatters. It’s basically a carcass swinging in the breeze,” he said.
“Jay Weatherill had planned to run his whole election strategy around blaming the Federal Government for the economic woes in South Australia.
“Today we have found out that in fact Holden made the decision entirely of its own to close its operations in South Australian and Victoria.”
Weatherill says Opposition pouncing ‘like seagull on a chip’
South Australian Opposition Leader Steven Marshall also pointed to Holden’s remarks, but Mr Weatherill says he is standing by his criticism of the Federal Government.
He says the State Opposition is trying to shift blame.
“They will seize on anything, like a seagull on a chip they will seize on anything that will get them off the hook,” Mr Weatherill said.
“Steven Marshall is there making excuses again for Tony Abbott and his mate. That’s what this is all about.”
The upcoming South Australian election is increasingly shaping as a battle across borders, between state and federal governments as much as between local Labor and the Liberal opposition.
Yesterday, Mr Weatherill accused the Federal Government of withholding funding for key infrastructure projects to give the state Liberals a leg-up at the election, a claim rejected by Mr Pyne.
Earlier today, Mr Weatherill criticised a freeze on federal funding for a local community group committed to tackling alcohol-related violence.