Former Victorian premier Steve Bracks says Holden’s decision to stop making cars in Australia could have been avoided if the federal government had offered the company a “certain path for the future”.
“I think it was actually avoidable,” Mr Bracks told the ABC on Thursday.
“I think the issue that really tolled on General Motors on their decision to now cease production in 2017 for Holden was the uncertainty in Australia.”
Mr Bracks in 2008 prepared a report into the local auto sector that led to a multibillion dollar assistance package for troubled industry.
Holden on Wednesday announced it would stop making cars by 2017, in a move that will result in the loss of 2900 jobs in Victoria and South Australia.
The car maker’s parent company, General Motors, cited the strong Australian dollar, high cost of production, small domestic market and competitive global auto market as factors for the decision.
Mr Bracks said he suspected the federal government also influenced the exit with its “decision to take about $500 million out of assistance”.
He said another factor was probably the government’s productivity commission review “which was ongoing with a divided government uncertain about whether they wanted to give assistance”.
“What the head office companies want, what Detroit wanted, was a certain path for the future … so they could actually make production decisions now which are years ahead,” Mr Bracks added.
He said the government needed to give Holden a “way of operating long term”.