The new report cites information from Holden: Our Car, a book on the history and challenges undertaken by the General Motors subsidiary. In the book, it is alleged that Holden planned to stop taking government subsidies 15 years ago, with top brass stating the automaker was able to survive without the assistance. Instead, over $2.17 billion was funneled to the brand over 12 years.
The information comes from former Holden boss Peter Hanenberger, who led the automaker from 1999 until 2003. It was during his reign that Holden last saw its top-selling spot: the year 2002.
“It was under the Howard Government with (industry minister Ian) Macfarlane that we negotiated a deal at that time — in 2000 or 2002, it was — that we committed to have no more support by the Australian government. For that, we got $2.5 billion to make this industry a modern, globally based industry,” said Hanenberger, who hinged his plans on exporting the Commodore to Europe and the U.S.
Macfarlane told News.Au it was General Motors’ position it could certainly build vehicles without further assistance. But shuffles of power through the Australian government saw things change.
“I think the Labor Party went a bit soft on the car industry and gave them more money and no conditions about export, and that’s really where the wheels fell off,” Macfarlane said. However, he does not blame the labor party stating Holden was exactly keen on the export concept either.
The report goes on to state the automaker’s foolishness, thinking it could survive without government assistance, ultimately leading to the end of the industry as a whole.
“The claims that (Holden) could get by without co-investment means that they could do something in this country they could do nowhere else in the world. It’s a nonsense, a complete nonsense,” said Senator Kim Carr. “There is not a place in the world that has an automotive industry without support from the government.”
Holden: Our Car will be released this week.